Pretoria mom and son to walk same graduation stage

2016-04-12 11:28
Juanita Haug and her son Ricky talking about graduating together (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

Juanita Haug and her son Ricky talking about graduating together (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

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Pretoria - The pinnacle of years spent at a tertiary institution traditionally culminate in one being bestowed with a degree or diploma surrounded by jovial friends. But for the Haug family, graduation day will be extra special.

That's because Juanita Haug, 43, will be graduating on the same day as her 24-year-old son, Ricky.
To cap off what will be a brilliant week for the family, she will be celebrating her birthday two days after their graduation from the University of Pretoria.

"It's quite surreal because it's not every day you can say you are graduating on the same stage and on the same day. It's quite an honour and a privilege to have him on the stage with me," said Juanita.

Ricky was equally chuffed. "It's quite unbelievable because it's one thing to graduate with your friends and that is a big thing. But to graduate with your mom is truly something else and not everybody can say they are doing that."

Tense exam time

He says studying at the same time as your mother can be daunting especially when both of you are doing the same course.

Both were graduating with Bachelor of Administration degrees, Juanita in Public Administration and Ricky in Public Management.

On top of their studies, another member of the family was in matric in 2015, making the house very tense at exam time.

Although the situation was not always ideal, having three people studying had its perks, Juanita said
"We exchanged tips on study methods because I hadn't studied [for a long time]. It did help to have friend structures as well.

"My best friend and I studied and collaborated a lot almost every weekend, sacrificing a lot of family time but in the end it paid off and we are graduating," she said.

Ricky said friends proved to be vital to help de-stress when they got on each other's nerves in the house.

"Studying wasn't easy because my brother was studying for his final matric exams and me and my mom with our final year. Things got hectic... but we pulled through it.

"When we were struggling there were friends we could rely on to give us a bit of a nudge when we got on each other’s nerves," he said.

Motivating each other

The mother and son team said they pushed one another to perform at their best. Ricky said having a mother who was studying helped her to understand the type of stress and workload he was experiencing.

They also helped motivate one another.

"When she wasn't in the mood to study or thinking she was not going to get the marks she wanted, I would try to get her up. It was a give and take," said Ricky.

Juanita said, "A typical mother thing is that you put pressure on your child and I also put pressure on myself to prove myself and make them proud.

"To be in your 40s and doing your degree is not easy. They would say your brain is better than ours because you have so much experience but that is not the case when it comes to studying."

Juanita said the graduation ceremony marked the fulfilment of long-cherished dream.

"I never had the opportunity to do a degree, so I always wanted to do that. I’m getting a degree hoping to better our lives and our family circumstances to have better opportunities for career advances and I think I have done that," she said.


The mother and son said they were excited but nervous about graduating.

"I’m very excited... but I'm also nervous. It's a proud moment," said Juanita.

The two will be classmates again very soon as they both intend studying a post graduate diploma in communication.

Ricky said he would advise people to look at studying with their parents.

"Maybe off the bat they wouldn't think it's a good idea... I would tell people it's not a bad thing.

"It actually helps because they get an idea of what you have to cope with. They might not be doing it full time like you are if they are working but at least they will have inside knowledge of how it works and the pressure of having a test and the amount of work you have to get in your head," he said.

The pair praised the other members of the family, saying they were very supportive throughout the year.

Now, the excitement in the house is at an all-time high with the youngest family member asking to be excused from class on the big day to see his mom and big brother  don their gowns and take to the stage to receive their degrees.

Watch News24's interview with Juanita and Ricky:

Read more on:    pretoria  |  education  |  good news

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