Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
Graduation celebration for grandmother and granddaughter
Author: Sandra Mulder
Published: 21/12/2021
​It is said that you are never too old or too young to learn.  This sentiment is true for graduates Ms Marietjie Jordaan, a 77-year-old grandmother, and her 21-year-old granddaughter, Ms Hilde Elema, who both graduated at Stellenbosch University (SU)’s December virtual graduation.  

Jordaan, who resides in Oudtshoorn, successfully completed her Postgraduate Certificate in Text Editing, adding another qualification to her BA degree and Higher Education Diploma that she obtained years ago when she was her granddaughter’s age. Her granddaughter, Elema, a Stellenbosch local, received her BA degree in International Studies.  

Graduating together is a special moment for both.  The two started studying together, after Jordaan, who says she became a bit “bored” with retirement, had enrolled for her course in 2021, while Elema was in her final year of study.   “Studying and gaining new knowledge is very stimulating for me. However, as a retiree I began to feel that I was not challenging myself enough.”  

Student life 
Elema said they both learned so much from one another during their time as students. Watching her grandmother study, Elema said she realised that no matter your age, you can always learn more. For Jordaan, Elema’s knowledge of technology came in handy when she needed help with the modern technology to complete her studies, partly conducted through virtual learning. “The new technology was initially challenging. Computers, the internet and interactive virtual sessions did not exist when I was a student years ago. Hilde helped me a lot,” said Jordaan. 

Likewise, her grandma assisted her with the grammar for her academic assignments.  “It was also instructive for me to see how my grandma approaches courses on a subject she has a passion for. She gave me new insight into studying,” said Elema. 

However, being students erased the age difference of 56 years between them. “It was fun studying with my grandma. It felt as if we were from the same time and generation,” said Elema. 

Expressing her gratitude, Jordaan said that it was a privilege to graduate with her granddaughter. “I am very proud of what Hilde has accomplished,” she said.  Jordaan said receiving another qualification is also a special moment for her. 

Next year Elema plans to work in Germany as an au pair, to learn more about the culture and improve her German language skills, while her grandmother is setting her next challenge of continuing with her research.  “The opportunity exists now to dig deeper into the essence of Afrikaans, and to use my knowledge in such a way that others can also use Afrikaans correctly,” said Jordaan.