Juané Meyer

Juané Meyer has a burning call to help animals in need. While it took her two years to be accepted into the highly competitive veterinary sciences degree at the University of Pretoria, her passion and perseverance paid off.

Currently in her third year of BSc veterinary sciences, Juané Meyer grew up in Randfontein. “I’ve always loved animals,” she says, “it’s something that my dad taught me. I’m especially drawn to animals in need. If an animal is sick or in pain, there’s just something inside of me that flames into being and it makes me feel like this is the reason I was put on earth. It’s been a big passion of mine since I was little.”

Twists and turns

For Juané, the road to studying veterinary science had some unexpected detours. While she always loved animals, it was only in matric that she knew she simply had to become a vet. Yet, it was a tumultuous time in her life. “My mother passed away when I was in grade 11,” she says. “It was a bit sudden and it changed me forever. I chose to make that something that would define me in a positive rather than a negative way.”

After matric Juané took a gap year. “I needed to mourn the loss of my mother. I didn’t do it properly in school because I was focused on getting good grades.” She also used the time to ensure she was following the correct career path. “I volunteered at many animal shelters and even worked at a lion farm. I wanted to make sure that I had the grit to become a vet because it’s not a sunshine job, it can be quite hard on you.”

Secure in the knowledge that veterinary science was the right path for her, Juané had to still fight to be accepted into the degree. “It took two years of BSc studying to finally get in,” she says. “The amount of people they accept is miniscule. By the grace of God, I got in after two years of very hard studying. I’ll be forever grateful because Moshal backed me throughout that time. They never stopped believing in me or saying that I could make it if I put my mind to it.”

A more certain future

Being awarded the Moshal scholarship in her first year was a saving grace for Juané. “When they told me I got accepted into the scholarship programme I just cried, I was so shell shocked,” she says. “Up until that time, I wasn’t certain that I’d be able to continue with my studies. Moshal made sure my future was a sure thing.”

While Juané’s family was never financially well off, they managed. “When my dad lost my mother though, it broke him and one day he just left his work without any contingency plan,” she says. “He had a planned to start a business with his pension, but things were really bad financially and we moved in with grandparents. We’re not a dysfunctional family though, just a poor one. My dad got a job this year after five years of struggling which is great, but he’s not always good at planning for finances so I feel I can’t trust him in that way.”

That’s why Juané is so grateful to Moshal. “It’s the best bursary that I think exists,” she says, “if it weren’t for Moshal, I don’t know what would have become of me. They’ve supported me so much through working towards and realising my dreams. When I felt like I couldn’t rely on my dad, I knew I could rely on them always. We’re really part of a family at Moshal, it’s not just something we say.”

Juané says that the desire to pay it forward comes naturally when you’re part of Moshal. “You can’t help but overflow with gratitude and want to make a difference wherever you can. When I’m a vet I’d like to take on Moshal’s veterinary students to help them through their studies. I want to make such a difference through my career.”

Better not bitter

Asked how she managed to maintain her positivity after her mother’s death, Juané points to two influences. “My pastor said that when I wanted to be close to my mom, I needed to draw close to God because that’s where she is. I took that to heart completely. Even though I’m not religious, my relationship with God is something I truly believe helps me through life. I also just wanted to be positive for my mom. I lost her and I want to make her proud. She was my best friend and we had such a good relationship. When I lost her, it devastated me, but I chose to let it make me better, not bitter.”

In keeping with that philosophy, Juané has learned the true power of perseverance – a key Moshal value. “I feel like life is really real and it’s never a fairy-tale,” she says. “There will always be obstacles, but through choosing to try again over and over again, you end up on top.”