Working for a better tomorrow

2016-06-07 06:00
Carol Williams recently graduated cum laude in her law degree and received the Dean’s Medal Award at the University of the Western Cape.

Carol Williams recently graduated cum laude in her law degree and received the Dean’s Medal Award at the University of the Western Cape.

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She dreams of a bright future and a better tomorrow.

And after graduating Cum Laude in her Law degree last month, Carol Williams feels she can inspire youth in her community to achieve the same.

And to top off her hard work and dedication, she also received the Dean’s Medal Award for her achievement during last month.

Williams (24), who has lived in Hanover Park for the past 15 years and previously called Manenberg home, says she now wants to inspire youth from her community to also strive for excellence and to follow their dreams.

“I know some of our youth has heard it a thousand times before but I want them to believe me when I say that if I can do it, they can do even better. This is what I want my achievements to mean to them: that it can be done and that they are capable of even better,” Williams motivates.

She adds that some might think she is “just naturally smart and had life easier”, but says this is not the case.

“I was horrible at mathematics, nearly failed physics and I know financial struggle. I know what it’s like to not always have and let’s not get started on the gang violence. I know what most of our youth are going through, I’ve been and am there and that is why I can confidently say that if I can make it, so can you,” Williams says.

Currently studying transitional criminal justice and crime prevention, Williams is completing her master’s degree in Law at the University of the Western Cape and Humboldt University Zu Berlin.

“Although there’s a number of reasons why I decided to study law, one of the primary reasons I chose law is because of the tools it equips you with. Tools that ultimately enable you to influence any situation you’re in and in my case that is to end the impunity against crime and to ultimately contribute towards the improvement of our criminal justice system.”

She says being awarded the Dean’s Medal Award “feels like a dream come true”.

“It feels so surreal. It is like I still cannot believe I actually achieved it, not because I lacked self-belief but because of all the challenges I faced, because of all the times I felt like it was impossible to successfully complete my LLB Degree. However, it just shows that with hard work, determination and faith we can achieve anything,” Williams says.

Born in Mitchell’s Plain and growing up in Manenberg for most of her childhood, Williams says growing up where she did “is one of the primary reasons I have set the goals and the dreams I have”.

“I don’t think anyone living in townships such as Hanover Park can say that they don’t dream of a better tomorrow. Because of where I come from, I am more determined and more hard working out of fear that I too will continue the cycle of poverty and lack of education. Places like Hanover Park teach you to either sink or swim against the current of poverty, gangsterism, and violence. I know people love to say that it is not where you come from that matter but for me personally, who I am today is a result of where I come from. More importantly, I chose the impact it would have on me,” she says.

An alumnus of Groenvlei High School in Lansdowne, Williams says she received funding from National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the first year at university. “Because I did so well academically, I received bursaries from the GA Khun Trust Fund and UWC for the remaining three years of my LLB Degree. DAAD, a German national agency that provides funding for international students, awarded me with a scholarship to pursue my Master’s Degree. So essentially, I was able to study not only because I worked hard but because of the generous donors who are willing to invest in those seeking to educate and better themselves,” she says.

Having been threatened at knife point before, Williams says this has made growing up a challenge. “Living in a neighbourhood like Hanover Park is challenging because you don’t know when they will shoot next. Whenever I leave the house, I just hope and pray that I don’t become the next victim of a gang war. Whenever I travel to and from campus, I fear that I will be robbed by yet another gangster as this has happened before. Being threatened with a knife for your belongings is something that stays with you forever – that feeling of powerlessness and fear. This also makes travelling to and from campus a huge challenge,” she says.

Asked how she was able to manage such great results with all distractions in her community, Williams says her secret is a combination. “My secret? God, faith, constant hard work, perseverance and believing in yourself.”

Williams says her future plans is to join the Nation Prosecuting Authority and serve as a judge. “My future plan is to essentially contribute towards our legal system so that it becomes more accessible to and beneficial for our people.

“Work hard, remain focused, believe that you can and (you) will make it and never give up on yourself, aspire to be more than what you are today,” are her parting motivational words for aspiring youth.

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