Sometimes Merilyn Hove can’t believe how much her life has changed from growing up in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe to her current apartment outside London. This is her base while doing her articles training to become a qualified chartered accountant (CA) with award-winning accounting firm, BDO UK.

A few weeks ago, Merilyn Hove, 29, went sightseeing in London in the UK with a friend. They went to see Buckingham Palace as well as the London Eye. This was an emotional moment for her – she’d had a poster of the huge observation wheel and tourist attraction on her wall as a student back in South Africa.

“To see it in real life was amazing,” recalls Merilyn who said she used to look at the picture against her wall for motivation while she was studying. In 2022, she graduated from Milpark Education with the postgraduate degree in accounting (PGDA) after also doing the bridging course.

She then applied for a job with BDO UK thinking it would increase her career opportunities and look good on her CV. She got the job. Merilyn has come a long way from sharing a room with her mother in Tembisa as a young girl, after she left Zimbabwe during political unrest during the 2008 elections.

Always a hard worker, Merilyn achieved good marks in school and went on to study a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Regent Business School. It took five years to complete her studies because not only did she have to pay her own tuition while working full-time at a call centre, in 2016 she also had a baby. She managed resume her studies, and finally get her degree.

She then enrolled for the bridging course and the PGDA at Milpark Education in 2022 and she remembers how she was taken aback initially at the intensity of the work and the course load. “Many subjects like management accounting and auditing I had never encountered before, and I was learning everything from scratch.”

On her first test in management accounting, Merilyn scored 27%. “I cried because I had been studying every night and I was thinking, what is the point of working so hard?” In other subjects, like tax, she also struggled at first, but eventually she learned to love it. “I talked to the assistant lecturer and he really helped me to understand it and laid a foundation that stayed with me.”

Another big contributing factor in her motivational process was the fact that she had a study partner from Milpark, whom she could check in with regularly. “We held each other accountable, and told each other it would be okay, to keep on doing what we were doing and this really helped me.”

She admits that the PGDA was a bit of a rollercoaster in terms of failing some tests and passing others, and learning to study every day, even when she was at work. At this point, she had a job as a receptionist which allowed her to fit in some extra study time.

“I remember the fatigue, being really tired,” she says. “I would cry about the smallest thing and have to remind myself why I was doing this. But you have to put in the work.” When she got her final results and saw that she had passed, she couldn’t believe it. “I knew my life would change and that I would leave SA and come to the UK.”

That was exactly what she did. Now, she wants to spend every free moment she has exploring to go travelling. “Sometimes, it feels like it is still sinking in, that I am here and that this is my life,” she says.

She has high words of praise for the institution that helped her succeed. “Milpark is the best, I 100% recommend them, the lecturers genuinely want you to succeed. Enrolling with Milpark was a game changer for me.”