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Dyslexia no obstacle to academic success for UWC graduate Melissa Titus

Dyslexia no obstacle to academic success for UWC graduate Melissa Titus

In Grade 4, Melissa Titus’ parents were called in to school and told she had dyslexia so extreme that she could actually read and write back to front. For many children, that would have been extremely discouraging. But with encouragement from her parents and friends, and dedication and hard work, she managed to overcome her learning disability and excel academically - and last week she graduated summa cum laude with a BCom from the University of the Western Cape. Here’s what the current Honours student (still at UWC) has to say about her accomplishment, and how others can attain similar results.  

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I was born in Eerste River, but I have lived in Goodwood since the age of two. I attended Goodwood Park Primary School - and that’s where I was told I was dyslexic. From there I had to go to remedial classes with the school, as well as weekly one-on-one educational therapy sessions. Thereafter, I attended Fairbairn College High School and finally ended up at UWC.

Why Industrial Psychology? What is it about this field that interests you most?

When I came to university I wasn’t exactly sure of my career path, but I knew I wanted to be in the business environment, so I decided to do Bcom General. Whilst going through all the different modules I developed an interest in Industrial Psychology. There are many things that excite me about the field. I am currently completing my honours year and I can say that psychometrics has captured me - I find it very interesting, all the things that can be done with it. Organisational behaviour also interests me as it deals with solving organisational problems.

What makes UWC the university for you?

Well, there are two universities that were options in my mind when I started - UWC and UCT. But I think the question you should ask is why I choose to continue my postgraduate studies with UWC. For one thing, UWC lecturers are very supportive and helpful. I can honestly say that now in Honours I feel comfortable going up to any of my lecturers and asking them questions, perhaps not even related to their module. They create an environment which makes you think beyond the theory, and provide a support system. I also love the diverse people at UWC. You get a mix of characters that helps you to build your own character, and learn about people’s differences and their beliefs.

What are you most proud of accomplishing during your time at UWC? 

Graduating Summa Cum Laude has to be my proudest accomplishment - I never thought it was possible. But my most special accomplishment was probably my first EMS Dean’s Honours Awards, where my name went up on the gold boards in EMS for my 1st and 2nd years of study. That award gave me faith in myself, and pushed me to work harder.

What is your overall impression of your time at UWC? And your fondest UWC memory?

Although UWC has its problems, those problems are just a drop in the ocean. The University empowers individuals to think for themselves, and doesn’t place restrictions on what you can achieve. My fondest memory at UWC would have to be my introduction to B-blocks’ Coffee shop. I always used to enjoy time with my friends drinking coffee and having fat chats there.

What do you do to relax? Or when you’re not working?

A fun weekend activity would be anything involving scenic drives and walks. My favourite dates with friends are coffee dates or trying out new places. And I also enjoy listening to music.

Do you have any role models or heroes or folks that you admire or would like to acknowledge for their support over the years?


Well, I give thanks to God, and to my wonderful parents, Shaun and Colleen Titus. I hear stories of parents not wanting to accept their children’s disadvantages - but my parents not only accepted mine, but also embraced it. They’ve supported me in ways that I could never repay; no monetary value can make up what they have done for me. I also want to acknowledge my sister (Lisa Titus) and my varsity friends (especially Kirsten Marshall & Tammy Dodgen); without you ladies, these four years would have been a drag.

If there was one message you have to share, what would it be?

In grade four, I was dyslexic. A few years later I graduated Summa Cum Laude. And if I can do it, you can do it. Something that was meant to be an obstacle in my life turned out to be the biggest blessing God could have given me, because I had to work harder than others just to get average marks. By overcoming that obstacle I learned what hard work is - which has been instrumental in my life thus far.  So what might seem an obstacle today might be the reason you are successful at another stage in life. It might take more hard work and you will feel overwhelmed at times, but just push through it, because when you reach the end goal you will hardly remember the feeling you had in the hard times. Do not give up - it will make sense at a later stage.

Know of anyone graduating in April who’s done something really interesting? Overcome great odds, achieved amazing marks, performed world-changing research? Contact  or 021 959 9566 and share your story with the world!