News & Media

Bittersweet graduation

Graduation days often come with jubilation and tears of joy for many as they reminisce on the journey travelled to finally get the invitation to the graduation ceremony. While this could apply to the husband and wife who were conferred with a PhD, it was a bittersweet day for Mrs Hantie Steyn, mother of a deceased student, who was supposed to be among the 251 graduates to receive their qualifications on 1 October 2019 at the University of South Africa (Unisa).


On the left, the late Lize-Marie Steyn and on the right, Mrs Hantie Steyn receiving the qualification on behalf of her late daughter, Lize-Marie.

Mrs Steyn received a posthumous degree in Financial Accounting from the College of Accounting Sciences on behalf of her daughter, Lize-Marie Steyn, during the Unisa spring graduations. According to her mother, Lize-Marie received her results on Saturday 27 July 2019 before she passed away on 29 July 2019. The 25-year-old suffered from a rare Angiosarcoma cancer. Despite cancer and chemotherapy, she still worked at an auditing firm, Middel & Partner, in Pretoria East. "I am glad that she knew before she died that she had completed her degree, and as a mother I am proud of her ‒ at the age of 25 she has achieved a lot. She dedicated her degree to her father who passed away 16 years ago. Lize-Marie showed us that there is no reason to stop your life because you have an illness or living with a disability," she concluded.

The awarding of a posthumous degree has frequently brought closure to a tragic situation for the family and friends of the deceased student as well as the University.


Mr Christoffel and Mrs Lindie Smit received their doctoral degrees (DLitt et Phil) from the College of Law.

On a sweeter note

On a sweeter note, husband and wife Mr Christoffel Smit and Mrs Lindie Smit, obtained their doctoral degrees (DLitt et Phil) from the College of Law.

The Smit family also believes that studying together strengthened their relationship as it gave them an opportunity to experience new challenges together and it pushed them out of their comfort zone. "The journey to grow personally and professionally gives us a great sense of achievement and having your partner on the same journey makes you feel extra proud. Over and above, we met supportive and academic role models that understood and motivated our culture and language to be disciplined, focused and committed to your studies," said Lindie.

"Although time was limited, it was very important to stay healthy and balanced in life. Einstein explained that 'there are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle'", concluded Christoffel.

* By Edgar Rathelele, Senior Media Officer, Directorate of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2019/10/14