Being blind is no obstacle for college’s SRC president
Worcester Standard: 14 April 2022
The new executive SRC president of Boland College is a clear example of how pushing through hardship can lead to success, however severe the obstacles one encounters.
Elvis Michell, the newly elected SRC president, hails from a small town in the Northern Cape called Warrington where he also completed his National Senior Certificate in 2015.
Since primary school he needed glasses due to bad eyesight. In 2001, he lost his sight completely in his right eye. Between 2011 and 2014, complications started developing in his right eye and an operation was needed. Doctors did what they could, but after the operation in 2014, his eyesight was never the same.
After hearing about Kaleidoscope SA (as Innovation for the Blind was previously known) in Worcester that was perfect for visually impaired people, he tried to enrol. Due to financial constraints it was not possible for him to do so at the time.
Fast forward a few years and he was declared blind by his doctor. Tragedy struck again as he lost both his mother and his employment in the same year. As difficult as things were and without the necessary support structure, depression became part of his daily struggle. In 2019 he lost his eyesight completely.
After the diagnosis and learning to adapt to his new way of life, Michell took charge of his life and the first step was to seek help for his depression and the to start focussing on his life and the goals he had set out for himself.
He enrolled at Optima College in Pretoria and studied Contact Centre Support, Braille Reading and did Computer Training.
After completing these programmes he went to Roodepoort in Johannesburg to enroll in another programme. As was the case with many, Covid 19 derailed his plans and Michell had to decide on another trajectory for his studies. After hours of research on possibilities for him, he came across the Hein Wagner Academy, which is a satellite campus of Boland College.
In 2020, he contacted the Hein Wagner Academy and received all the information he needed about Marketing Management, the programme he was interested in.
With new technology, visually impaired students are well equipped to make a success of their studies. They make use of laptops that have a screen reader. This assists them in navigating the laptop and reads for them. This allows them to use a laptop to its full potential. They also make use of a keyboard and not a mouse.
Asked what his ambitions were for the Boland College Student Representative Council, he was very clear in his answer: “I want to make a difference. Student council truly allows one to foster skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork, organisation and public speaking, all of which one needs in college, and it can prepare for the day when, for instance, one decides to join politics.
Not only do these skills help one in class, they’re also super valuable when it comes to job applications.”
Michell is very aware of how big a responsibility it is to be SRC president.
He is open-minded and describes himself as a good listener. As a leader, one normally leads from the front, but he also wants to be at the back of the line to push to the front those who need that extra support and push.
Michell wants to focus on his studies for the next five years. After completing his N6 in Marketing Management, he also wants to apply for the Cyber Security programme which is a two-year course and he will obtain an International Degree. He then wants to do his degree in Business Management.
The message Michell has to share with those facing the same challenges as him is simple:
“Being blind is not an obstacle. You can use this as the driving force to become successful. This challenge will build your character and you will emerge stronger than before.”