Leslé Ann Arendse
Fellow: History Department, MA
I gained access to study at the University of the Western Cape upon completion of its RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) programme in 2014. I then enrolled for the BA programme in 2015 as a full-time student, with History as one of my majors. From my first year through to third year of undergraduate studies, my History modules have always captivated my interest the most. I was excited to find out that History awards its students an opportunity to play detective through its reading, analysis, writing processes and stories of discovery. I found the topics related to slavery, colonialism, visual history and biographies especially engaging. The complexities of the vices and social forces involved in these topics are particularly fascinating and compelling to me.
During my first year of study, I learnt about the basic technicalities of writing and how certain claims are made in the History. During my second year of study, I was challenged to improve my writing skills and style with a specific focus on nurturing and cultivating my own voice. This space awarded me the opportunity to go beyond my safe and comfortable boundaries as I came to understand that History is not only something that happened in the past based on evidence but that it is current and includes space, time, context, concepts and perceptions. Initially, I hesitated and fumbled a lot and my marks dropped. However, with persistence my confidence grew and writing skills improved and at the end of 2016 I again finished as one of the top achievers in my History class. Grasping this as a third year student meant that I understood how to critically engage with reading and visual material through analysis of its presentations, arguments and evidence. I have learnt to spot and detect the unassuming information lurking in its construction. Thus, in doing so I now think differently about how claims are constructed in History and seek to challenge this as I further my studies.
My achievements and successes include the Dean’s List and Golden Key membership. I was also awarded a once off grant from the NRF for the special focus research essay on Forensic History in my third year of undergraduate studies. My decision to pursue honours studies is accentuated by my desire to be a part of the program at CHR. The programs at the CHR perfectly match my interests (Visual History, Slavery and Forensic History). I envision myself as a fully-fledged research professional, working at a leading university or in an organisation.