Despite major financial obstacles, she scrimped and saved so she could self-finance and complete her N6 studies as well as the theory components of a three-year Human Resources diploma.
"I finished matric in 2009 and then applied to North West University to study for a degree in education," she says. "However, my school results weren't good enough and I was not accepted. I am very much a people person, so my second choice was to study Human Relations at Western College in Randfontein."
But finding the money to pay for her studies was a constant struggle, although she was given a kick-start by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
"There were many times I thought I wouldn't be able to continue," says Theolien, "but somehow, despite the obstacles, I managed to keep going.
"In 2011 I was placed in a government learnership programme with Carryou Ministry by the National Youth Service and worked at the Toekomsrus Drop-in Centre. Later I was officially accepted as part of the government's Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP)," she says.
"With the monthly stipend I received and the constant encouragement of the people at Carryou, I kept on studying. I've completed the theory component of the three year-long diploma but now need to find an 18-month internship where I can do the practicals.
"My immediate goal is to find a company that will offer me an internship and then to do a university degree. In the long-term I would like to work as a Human Resources Manager in a large corporation."
On weekends Theolien spends most of her time with her family and is involved in fund-raising efforts with her church.
"I guess what I am most proud of is I am the first person in our household to get a matric and a tertiary qualification," she says. "My brothers pushed and encouraged me to do so and now, my achievements have inspired them to strive for the same."