UFS student overcomes brain surgery to achieve third degree

Juggling full-time work and studying is not always an easy task, but for Nicoleen Moorcroft, she made it her mission to complete her qualification. Moorcroft is a senior officer in the office of the rector and vice-chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen. 

At some point in her journey, Nicoleen, who received an LLB degree with distinction from the University of the Free State (UFS), was diagnosed with Arnold-Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. 

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Nicoleen Moorcroft’s LLB degree is her third qualification. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences in 2009 and a Social Sciences Honours degree majoring in Psychology in 2010. 

Reflecting on her studies, Nicoleen said she had to “accept studying as a complete lifestyle change, rather than just something I do in my spare time.”

“My declining health and intense medical treatment unfortunately meant that I had to stop studying. In 2016, I underwent Chiari decompression surgery to relieve the pressure on my brain; this significantly improved my health and mental capabilities.” 


While studying, Nicoleen got married and gave birth to her daughter. 

“Having learned the value of time management early in my life, this invaluable skill also helped when balancing work, studied and personal responsibilities.”

“I was also incredibly lucky to have an exceptionally supportive and understanding team in the office – without their constant support and encouragement, I might not have been able to make it.”

Nicoleen works closely with Prof Francis Peerson, rector and vice-chancellor of UFS. She is responsible for planning, coordinating and managing specific institutional projects, initiatives and functions under the direction and leadership of Prof Peterson. 

The projects are aligned to the srategic objectives and goals outlined in both the strategic goals and Integrated Transformation Plan. 


On completing her LLB degree, Nicoleen said: “The aim has always been to supplement my role as a member of the support staff within the university, especially in the Office of the rector and vice-chancellor.”

“I have a massive passion for continuous learning and am very much looking forward to finding ways to improve on the impact I make as an employee of the UFS.”

“After four years of dedication to my degree, I am happy to take a break from academics to focus on other areas in both my professional and personal life.” 

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