18 March 2017

South Africa: Matie Receives Commerce Degree Despite Physical Challenges

Anita Engelbrecht who was diagnosed with spastic diplegia said receiving her commerce degree from Stellenbosch University on Friday proved that there is no challenge she cannot overcome.

"It has given me a much clearer idea of what I can do," Engelbrecht said in a statement by the university.

Engelbrecht was born prematurely and experienced an oxygen shortage shortly after birth. This affected the development of the part of her brain that controls motor functions.

But Engelbrecht is not a prisoner of her wheelchair.

"Push boundaries because magic happens when you move out of your comfort zone," she said.

Positive outlook

After arriving at Stellenbosch University from Bellville High School to study accounting in 2013, Anita needed help from scribes during exams because, as she explains, "my writing speed is that of a snail."

Engelbrecht can also only see out of one eye at a time. Her brain decides which one sees without her being able to control it. This makes it very difficult to read and she doesn't have time to review study material two or three times. She has to take it all in during the first, and only, time.

At the end of her first year she met with her lecturer who asked her whether she really wanted to be a chartered accountant.

"To be a chartered accountant would've meant that she would have to go to clients without knowing if the environment is wheelchair-friendly," he said.

With the bigger picture in mind they both decided that she would change her course to BCom Management Accounting.

"Sometimes I have to decide between what I want to do versus what is practically possible. I don't regard it as a failure that I had to change my course. If I don't try things I will always wonder about them," she said.

Engelbrecht said the faculty, exam office, her friends and support network, and her faith helped her to grow during the time at the university.

"The journey, the adventures, the growth on all levels - these elements are more important than the destination," she believes.

Engelbrecht said she thoroughly enjoyed her time at the university and being able to participate in student activities.

"My study years exceeded all my expectations, but sometimes good things come to an end so that new journeys can begin," she said.

Source: News24

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