‘I believe that women are stronger than they think and that we are born warriors … all of us. Women have to unleash the potential within themselves to navigate this journey called “life”. I did not give up and went against the odds to self-recovery,’ says Ruyaida Moosa
A natural-born leader, Ruyaida Moosa CA(SA), MCompt, a senior lecturer in the Department of Taxation at the University of South Africa (Unisa) as well as an in-house life coach of the College of Accounting Sciences, does not allow any situation to define her outcome. She works tirelessly to unleash her students’ and others’ potential by inspiring others through her story. She has been a TEDx speaker hosted by Unisa in 2020 and again in 2021, addressing students on ‘How to get through it all’.
Ruyaida has overcome a serious medical condition and loves to hear when women say, ‘I can and I will’. Because that’s exactly how she takes on life. In 2010, she was diagnosed with a medical condition which temporarily confined her to her bed and needed 24/7 assistance for a while. She was told that she would not be able to drive for 12 months and could not return to the office.
She has proudly walked down the graduation floor four times, her most recent being receiving her master’s in Taxation which focuses on medical aid rebates, particularly for disabled persons. She finished her undergraduate and postgraduate studies full time while being married and gave birth to her first child during her final year of BComm Accounting Sciences.
Ruyaida is currently busy with her PhD at Unisa with a focus on incentivising green energy adoption in South Africa. ’It explores how tax incentives affect taxpayers by changing relative prices faced by households and firms compared with those they would face in the baseline tax system. The study applies a behavioural finance paradigm which provides a unique lens to view the complex fiscal challenges posed by global climate change. My study seeks to contribute to the psychological adaptation aspects required to support fiscal policy incentives in a developing country,’ she says.
But she still considers her most admirable achievement being married to her soulmate and being a mom of two beautiful daughters and a son. Her second child was born during her articles and Ruyaida was 32 weeks pregnant with their third child when she sat for Part 2 of the CA(SA) exams.
Back in the ‘nineties studying was not much of a priority for females in her community, but she decided she was going to challenge this. With the assistance of her women team back then (her sisters) her dad was forced to take a student loan whilst living on the breadline, so that she could go to university.
Coming from a previously disadvantaged background, Ruyaida reveals that she was always insecure about her abilities and believed that she should settle for what was. ’Society and stigma force us to believe that we are not good enough because of our social and financial status. But how naïve and wrong we are to doubt ourselves and our God-given abilities and talents and allow others to dictate our self-worth,’ says Ruyaida.
She would watch her mother work till 2 am some mornings making samoosas so she could provide for Ruyaida and her two sisters. At the age of 14 Ruyaida wanted to stay at home to take care of her then ill mother, but her parents refused.
‘My mom (with assistance) used to literally drag me across the road to school. She gave me no other choice, and the rest is history,’ describes Ruyaida.
Her passion for academia started at the young age of 19 when she realised that education is the key to coming out of a bad situation. ‘Times were tough and education was not a priority, due to finances. I applied for funding to a community-based forum and was rejected because I was female, and my place was to be home. I then realised that we needed to change the narrative. If women kept staying home, how were we going to get out of the cycle? Academia is a blessing − once you enter the sphere and gain knowledge, it’s a life-long yearning.’
Sharing her story and keeping it real motivates her students. Sharing the difficulties and the sacrifices that come with academic success enables her students to believe that they will reach the graduation stage if they remain dedicated and committed, no matter what life throws at them.
‘I motivate them by providing hope; by inspiration and leading by example. It’s more difficult to get in the right state of mind than to swot off a textbook. Ask the students, they will attest to this. My motivational sessions adjust their mindset and the river just flows,’ she says.
Ruyaida encourages all students to visit Unisa’s Facebook page and watch her short motivational video on how to ‘reach the graduation stage’. ‘Visualise that stage and create the scene in your mind … Once you have a vision board, the goal is clear. I encourage students to work towards that vision board hand in hand with their goals and soak up the feeling of success. Success is imminent if they follow a path. As Walt Disney said: “If you can dream it, you can do it!”’
She has a diverse portfolio: from being a guest motivational speaker for Unisa’s CTA students to being a guest motivational speaker for the university’s ABASA students. She has also been extensively involved as programme director and motivational guest speaker in ‘Take a Girl Child to Varsity’ day, a community outreach programme aimed at the youth in SA, especially young South African females.
Ruyaida has also been a team group leader for a major weight loss company for 12 years, having lost 30 kilograms on the programme. She ran a class of over 48 members under the Weight Watchers logo as a voluntary group leader and presented motivational talks on how to achieve this goal. She has since continued to assist women throughout their weight loss journey.
5 great tips for being successful
- Take each day and ask yourself ‘how can I change this into a positive?’. It’s all about perspective.
- Live in the present and remain at peace with yourself in all aspects and decisions. Travel, even if it is just an hour away from home – connect with nature.
- Try to wake up early in the morning, meditate, exercise, eat well and remain true to your inner being. Share love, light and positivity around you.
- Hard work, dedication and commitment are key. Don’t lose sight of the goal is what gets us through the day.
- If you connect spiritually, the questions get answered by themselves.