Angela’s journey with Ignition, Rays of Hope’s project that takes promising Alex students from matric through tertiary education and into their first job, shows just how unpredictable and difficult such a journey can be. And how a determined young woman can rise successfully to the challenge.

Angela, who lives in Alex with both her parents and two siblings, wrote matric in 2010. She took a gap year in 2011, during which time she made two applications to university, but was turned down. “I was desperate, so I approached Louise Cameron, the principal of Rose-Act Saturday School, which I had attended for several years. She put me in touch with Sarah van Zyl at Ignition.”

Things changed for the better. Ignition assisted Angela with tuition at a Unisa-linked college, where she passed her courses in Accounting and Economics, which gained her access to the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in 2012. “That was a good year for me. I passed all my subjects and my mentor, Nicole, was a great help in getting me onto a proper academic footing,” she recalls.

Things changed in 2013. “My parents got divorced, which caused disruptions at home and this affected my studies. I passed all my subjects at UJ except for Tax, which I had to carry into the next year.”

In 2014, my situation got a lot worse. “My father passed away in September of that year, right in the middle of the time when I was writing key tests. This was a terrible blow, and my world started to implode. I failed, and was ultimately excluded from the university. At that stage, Ignition was my only lifeline and their support enabled me to carry on. I appealed my suspension successfully and was allowed to return to UJ. I could never have done it without Ignition,” she says.

Last year, Angela’s world finally stabilised. “I managed to put all my domestic problems behind me and got stuck into my studies. I passed everything. Now I am in my final year of BCom Accounting and hope to graduate at the end of this year.”

Her future is bright and full of possibilities. “Since I have been in an academic stream that does not lead to my becoming a chartered accountant, I shall need to do a bridging course to set up that possibility. But my family needs financial support and, to be honest, I am a little tired of studying full time. So I plan to get a job doing articles and ultimately write my CA exams.”

Looking back, she pays tribute to Ignition. “They were always there for me and they believed in me. I had absolutely nothing when I started – look at me now. They helped me financially and gave me essential life skills, for which I shall always be grateful.”

That may be true, but without her own dogged determination to succeed, no matter what life threw at her, Angela would not have become an accountant with a splendid future ahead of her.