Change the world


When Hermione Kemp sat behind the doctoral degree recipients at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) graduation in 2014, she wondered what it would be like to one day sit in the front row donning the red academic gown.


By Roslyn Baatjies

BIG MILESTONE: Hermione Kemp will be awarded her doctoral degree in education today. Picture (Eugene Coetzee)

Now, nine years after being awarded her master’s degree in education, that proud moment has finally arrived.

Kemp, 35, will be awarded her doctoral degree in education at the university’s autumn graduation today.

“I am overwhelmed, but after all the hard work and a long journey, I believe I can allow myself to be excited,” she said.

“When my supervisor, Dr Tulsi Morar, called me in February with my results, I just cried.

“I could not believe I had made it.”

She said she was forever grateful to God and her mother, Julia, for her unwavering support.

She said it was sad that her father, Stephen, who died in 2020, had not got to see her grace the stage.

Kemp followed in her mother’s footsteps.

She is a Post-level 1 Intermediate Phase teacher at De Vos Malan Primary School in Schauderville.

Kemp attended Alexander Road High School and, after matriculating in 2006, studied towards a BPsych degree at NMU.

“I wanted to be a school counsellor.

“After obtaining my initial degree, I embarked on a postgraduate certificate in education.

“Thereafter I completed my honours degree one year, and my master’s over the next two years as a full-time student.

“My supervisor for my master’s degree was Prof Khatija Yassim, and she encouraged me and her other students to pursue doctoral studies.

“In 2015, I registered for my PhD.”

Kemp’s research addressed the use of language as a resource rather than seeing it as a challenge so that it can enhance the learner’s ability to engage with science concepts.

The research process was not without challenges.

When she started her doctoral studies as a full-time student, she was already in a permanent teaching post.

“I started approaching schools for my study in 2017, but it was not as easy as it sounded — the principals were on board, but getting the teachers involved and explaining that the research would not add to the volume of their work was challenging.

“I was often left feeling deflated and demotivated.

“With that said, I am grateful to the teachers who gave feedback that they had since applied the ‘vehicles for learning’ concept, and that it worked in their classrooms.”

She said after the death of her father she had wanted to give up, but her friend and fellow doctoral student Rochelle Thorne had motivated her to hang in there.

“Rochelle had a study nook set up in her house and we’d sometimes work on our theses for 12 hours straight.”

Kemp said teachers should see themselves as “change agents”.

“We should change our strategies and do things differently to include things the child likes to do in a relaxed setup.

“We also have to use strategies to help the easily distracted child through his or her schooling.”

Kemp said she was grateful to her colleagues at De Vos Malan for their support.

This article appeared in The Herald on 17 April.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160