(Published - 10 April 2019)
“Your studies should be treated like a job; maybe not a typical 9 to 5 job, but a job all the same. You have to work at it every day in addition to lectures, and put in extra effort when it comes to test and exams - and don't give up no matter how hard things get.”
It sounds extreme - but it’s all worth it, as Lauren Du Plessis proved when she receives her BCom Accounting degree summa cum laude in the University of the Western Cape’s April Graduation 2019.
Her fellow top accounting student, Aatiqyusuf Janjirkar (“Aatiq”), echoes that sentiment.
“My advice to students who would like to succeed in accounting - or any other subject - is to put in the work,” he says. “Don’t focus on what other people are doing, but rather on what suits and works for you. And if you don’t get it right the first time, there is always another opportunity waiting to come your way.”
Aatiq and Lauren are both currently doing their Postgraduate Diplomas in Accounting through UWC - and both have a long history of involvement with the subject.
For Rylands resident Aatiq, accounting is something of a family business.
“I have a brother and sister who both studied Accounting,” he explains. “My friends and family have always been supportive during my studies and encouraged me to live up to my potential. I will always be truly grateful to them. “
Belhar-based Lauren, too, has always been business-minded.
“I've always seen myself as working in the business and finance world, as my father did,” she remembers. “I realized in grade 10 that Accounting and Mathematics were the subjects that I was most passionate about, and a career assessment helped me come to the conclusion that BCom Accounting is what I should do - and I haven't regretted that decision ever since.”
The adjustment to University life was tough but worthwhile - Aatiq was accepted into the four-year programme and wasted no time catching up, and Lauren received not only financial support but also emotional and academic support from the Pilot Thuthuka programme.
“I would like to thank the Department Thuthuka programme for the academic support, and also for always encouraging and motivating me when I needed it,” Lauren says. “Along with my mother, who always supported me and encouraged me when I was discouraged, and my older brother, who set an amazing academic example for me, they helped me achieve all I could.”
Fortunately, UWC Accounting lecturers do their bit as well, providing detailed notes in addition to making lecture hall powerpoint presentations available to students - and allowing classroom time to be used for more in-depth discussions and subject matter interrogation. It gave the two young accountants-to-be a chance to flourish.
“I was given a chance to show my true potential, something I never knew I had in me,” says Aatiq. “ I had to be disciplined when prioritising between my personal life and studies. I had to make many changes throughout my studies...but that has shaped me into the person I am today.”
“One of my fondest memories at UWC was being forced out of my comfort zone and meeting my two best friends, Zahra Noordien and Firdous Ryklief,” Lauren recalls. “They’ve been there supporting me since 2016, and we’ve made many more memories since then.”
Both graduates are still putting in the hard work in their PGDAs...but not too hard.
“Above all, try to live a balanced life,” Lauren says. “Yes, this degree is very daunting, but living a balanced life and making time for fun is just as important as working hard.”