Alison Geduld, centre, and her oldest daughter, Savannah Steyn, right, are celebrating their first graduation. Alison’s youngest daughter and a third-year UCT student Dakota Steyn, left, celebrates with them.
Alison Geduld, centre, and her oldest daughter, Savannah Steyn, right, are celebrating their first graduation. Alison’s youngest daughter and a third-year UCT student Dakota Steyn, left, celebrates with them.

Mother-daughter duo graduate from UCT together in remarkable academic feat

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jul 19, 2021

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Cape Town - The July graduation season at UCT is an important milestone for Alison Geduld and Savannah Steyn, as mother and daughter celebrate their achievements, cheered on by the youngest, Dakota Steyn, a third-year student at the university.

On July 12, Geduld, 49, graduated with her first degree, a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice, and Savannah, 23, followed suit on July 15 with a BA in Theatre & Performance, specialising in Theatre Making.

“Graduation 2021 is a celebration of many things for Savannah and me, but above all else it is the gift of resilience that we want to revel in,” said Geduld. Reaching this milestone together was born out of a promise she made to her two daughters.

“I told them ‘I’ll go back to school when you two are enrolled at university’,” she said.

After completing high school, Geduld enrolled for a diploma in marketing and sales at CPUT. That was in 1991. But she only managed to complete her first year of studies due to financial difficulties. Instead, she decided to join the workforce to alleviate some of the financial burden shouldered by her parents.

“I had two other siblings who were also studying,” she added.

So when 2019 arrived and her youngest daughter Dakota finished her first year at UCT, Geduld kept her word and submitted her application to the UCT Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB).

The return to the UCT GSB was a bittersweet moment for Geduld. She joined UCT in 2009 as a business co-ordinator in the Executive Education unit. In 2011 she was promoted to business developer and the next year to marketing coordinator. Sadly, five years later she was retrenched.

But all doubts and fears dissipated when Alison stepped into the lecture hall as a UCT student.

Fast forward to 2020 and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic: what started as an exciting year soon turned to one filled with anxiety and change – and the experience was no different in the Geduld household.

But this family took it in their stride. Alison took up the challenge of learning online and can now add navigating a virtual classroom to her skill set.

And while Savannah’s coursework was largely performance-based and therefore presented a different kind of complexity, she too came out on top – so much so that she was awarded a scholarship from the Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

Lockdown has presented both challenges and opportunities for the Geduld family and one of the silver linings has been time spent together.

“We became a study squad and support team for each other,” said Alison.

“We read each other’s work, gave input and chatted about approaches. It was a very collaborative and fulfilling time.”

After their graduation celebrations, the Geduld study squad are back at it: with the learning bug’s teeth still firmly in place, Alison now plans to enrol for an Executive MBA at the UCT GSB. She’ll juggle this with her work as a senior analyst at Accenture South Africa.

As for Savannah, with the support of the MRF scholarship, she is furthering her studies in pursuit of an MA in Applied Theatre.

Meanwhile, Dakota is next in line to graduate as she wraps up the final year of her Bachelor of Social Science.

Cape Argus

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