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      Mother, 38, who overcame homelessness celebrates her third year at Bristol Uni

      ByMonelo Gabriel

      Feb 14, 2023

      “I feel whole now, college made me feel like me again”

      Cleopatra Kaviya turned her life around after being left homeless with her young daughter and battling depression to become a student at Bristol University.

      Cleopatra, 38, is in her third and final year of her degree in Anthropology, a course she says she “absolutely loved,” especially the opportunity to visit museums in different parts of the country during field trips.

      In 2017, Cleopatra was left homeless after unexpectedly separating from her partner at age 31 while heavily pregnant.

      She said: “I was so sick during my pregnancy that I couldn’t work and spent hours every day on drops. Then I found out that I had to do it all on my own.

      “I lost my house and had to go to council for support because I didn’t have a roof over my head. I ended up in a single room in a mother and baby unit in Bristol. My daughter was also quite sick at the time and I got depressed because I felt like she had really let her down.

      “It was a bit of a horror story. Life was very difficult for a while and it was all pretty bleak. But life is totally different now and I am also totally different, I am also happier now than ever before.

      Via the University of Bristol

      When Cleopatra was growing up in Zimbabwe, she wanted to go to university and become a teacher.

      She moved to the UK as a teenager, where her strong work ethic meant that bosses trusted her to open new bakery chains across the country and she secured management positions at Bristol stores including Lush and River Island.

      His dream of attending college faded as his successful career continued. This changed once her daughter Jahvya was born.

      Cleopatra struggled to find work as she lacked qualifications, so she decided to embark on a Higher Education Access Course at The City of Bristol College.

      In 2019, he saw a sign advertising the University of Bristol Foundation for the Arts and Social Sciences. This is a one year course for adults who do not have A-Levels equivalent qualifications preparing them to study for an undergraduate degree.

      “I didn’t think they would accept me, but they were very encouraging,” he explained. “The course also fit very well with childcare. They even allowed me to bring my daughter, she has come so much in the last few years that she has become an honor student!

      “After my founding year, I had planned to do teacher training, but was told: ‘you are so inquisitive about people, we think Anthropology would really nurture your soul.’ I didn’t even know what Anthropology was! But I looked at it and realized it was for me.”

      Cleopatra’s hard work earned her praise from her teachers. Professor Mhairi Gibson, Head of the University’s Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, said: “It is a real pleasure to teach Cleopatra, curious and creative! She brings energy and experience to the classroom.”

      Via the University of Bristol

      After completing her degree, Cleopatra hopes to continue studying at Bristol for a master’s degree and intends to become a teacher.

      “I want to introduce people to the Africa I know,” he continued. “Africans tend to see that it can be quite negative. If I could show a few people how I see it, and maybe touch a few hearts along the way, I’d be pleased. I just like to leave people with that happy feeling.”

      In addition to her studies, Cleopatra is also the headmistress of her daughter’s school and credits having her daughter with helping her navigate her new life.

      Cleopatra said: “My daughter really helped me. She made me step out of my comfort zone and made me want to be a better person. I hope that by following this path she can give her the life she deserves. And the life that I deserve too”.

      Cleopatra has a message for anyone thinking of starting a career later in life.

      “If you’re ready, do it. You will find ways to nourish yourself that you never knew were possible. Impostor syndrome is real, but you’ll look back and laugh at how far you’ve come.

      “It can be challenging and requires dedication, but once you do it you will feel great. Now I feel complete, the university made me feel like I am again”.

      Related stories recommended by this writer:

      • Single on Valentine’s Day? Here are 14 activities you can do with your friends in Bristol

      • Parents of Natasha Abrahart are shocked by the government’s ‘inadequate’ response to the student welfare petition

      • Some Bristol University students will lose over £1600 in tuition due to UCU strikes


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