Kaylin August, 18, smiled from ear to ear when she heard she had aced her matric exam with a Bachelors pass at Grassdale High School.
But what makes Kaylin’s achievement different from her classmates is that she is a single mother.
Her daughter, Kiara, was born when she was just completing Grade 9.
Disappointed in herself when she heard she was pregnant, Kaylin says her mind “opened”, and she immediately stopped smoking and taking drugs. “I was very rebellious while at school, and I smoked drugs and did many other illegal things. However, when I told the father of my baby, Sharooz, that I was pregnant, he asked me to stop smoking.”
Kaylin took an oath to stay clean and “gave my heart to Jesus”.
Her family were also very supportive and her aunt, Shana, suggested that she go back to school after the baby was born.
“My mother, Leonie, was also encouraging me to study again and she offered to look after the baby. But it didn’t last long because my mother got a job and I had to put 11-month-old Kiara in a creche.”
Kaylin went back to complete her Grade 10 in 2014 and a huge challenge awaited her.
She said she lived in a house full of siblings and cousins, and it was difficult to find a quiet spot to study. “I had to do my school homework when everyone was asleep at midnight. But I studied and passed Grade 10 and Grade 11.”
When she went back to school, not everyone knew she had a baby. “Only a few teachers knew about Kiara, but I kept focusing on my studies. I thank Grassdale High’s teachers who encouraged me to attend extra classes to better my grade,” said Kaylin.
Thanks to all her hard work, she received seven certificates of merit for improving her marks in Grade 12.
“I think my matric year was the best year of my life. I am going to be successful one day because I have applied for a bursary to study pharmacy.”
She will be only the second person in her family to pass matric, after her aunt, Shana. “Although there were times when I couldn’t cope, I kept telling myself to go on,” said Kaylin.
She said she felt people were talking about her when they would see her dropping her daughter off at creche while wearing school clothes. But that didn’t discourage her.
She said she now wants to encourage her siblings to finish school despite their circumstances.
Christo Williams, community youth leader of Africa Jam, who introduced Kaylin to the Southern Mail, said it was important to highlight the high number of teenage pregnancies in the community.
“Kaylin is an example for other teenage moms, that you can still better your life after you have a baby. She worked hard and never gave up. She went through the stress of matric, she even worked weekends, but she was determined to go on. Her experience is a lesson to all of us, especially the youth who should know that you must always make the best of your life.”