#UPGraduation2023: UP information science lecturer enjoys family affair on graduation stage as children follow in her footsteps

Posted on May 11, 2023

University of Pretoria (UP) information science lecturer Professor Marlene Holmner battled tears of joy to avoid ruining her make-up as she witnessed her children, Kaylie and David, walk the graduation stage to collect their information science degrees during the University’s autumn graduation season.

“I felt immensely proud to see my kids follow in my footsteps and acquire their education from UP,” said Prof Holmner who shared the graduation stage with her children and was the last person to congratulate them. “It was a joy for me to see them benefit from the same educational institution that has been such an important part of my life and career. As a UP faculty member, I’ve always felt a sense of connection with my children, knowing that we share a common experience and that they are part of the same academic community that I am part of.”

Making the achievement even more special is the fact that her son, David (22), who obtained a Bachelor of Information Science degree, excelled while dealing with epilepsy, which he was diagnosed with during his high school years.

“It was wonderful seeing them graduate, especially my son, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in Grade 10,” Prof Holmner said. “I was not even sure he was going to be able to write matric exams. It was a dream come true to see him not only graduate but graduate in the minimum three-year period.”

Kaylie and David sit back to back on green grass in their graduation gowns with their caps in hand while two gnomes made by their mother to represent them lie in the foreground

Kaylie and David with the gnomes their mom made for them as keepsakes.

For David, graduation was both a relief and a reward: it meant the stress of exams and assignments was over and obtaining his degree made him feel like all the hard work was worth it.

“Being called up on stage with my sister and having my mother on stage was a bonding experience like no other,” he said. “My higher education qualification from UP means a lot to me as it opens many doors. I also learnt many valuable life lessons along the way. I am really lucky that I got to study in this field as I believe information science is a sustainable field.”

Prof Holmner’s daughter, Kaylie (24), obtained a Bachelor of Information Science from UP with distinction in 2022 and is now the proud holder of an honours degree, which she also obtained with distinction. She plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in Information Science through the University she calls home.

“Graduating for the first time last year felt amazing, and having my mother on stage with me felt even better,” said Kaylie, who works as a research assistant for UP’s African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics in the Department of Information Science. “I didn’t think anything could top that until I had the incredible privilege of graduating with my brother this year. Being able to share this honour with some of the people I hold dearest is one of the most amazing things I have experienced. I could not be prouder of my brother.”

Kaylie recalled that she and her brother practically grew up on campus.

“UP was like a second home to me, and studying there was always a dream of mine; I believe my brother feels the same way. We both became used to being at UP as little kids, and being able to study there is a great honour.”

Kaylie said graduating from UP has opened so many doors for her in terms of job opportunities as the University is well regarded both nationally and internationally.

The siblings said they have no regrets for opting to #ChooseUP, and credit their mother as being their biggest inspiration.

“She is not just a wonderful mother, but an incredible lecturer and a role model to the UP student community,” they said.

- Author James Mahlokwane

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