I Am UWC: Longest Serving Staff Member Sonia Stroud Retires
After 45 years of service to the University of the Western Cape (UWC), 63-year-old Bellville-born administrative officer Sonia Stroud retired from the Department of Library and Information Science at the end of October 2017.
Sonia assumed her duties at the institution on 1 February 1973.
“At the time the University only had five faculties,” she recalls. “Everybody knew each other back then and staff members often got together over a few drinks and a braai.”
Over the years, UWC has become her second home - it’s where she spends most of her time, and she’s made a lot of friends here over the years.
“UWC gave me a future to build on,” she says. “I have achieved so much during my time here, and could never regret ever having worked at this wonderful institution.”
One of her most fondest memories of her time at UWC came when she received a personal phone call from the then-Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian O’Connell, who asked her, as the longest-serving staff member, to hoist a flag in honour of Nelson Mandela’s memorial service on campus.
The mother of three has seen the University advance a great deal over her time here, from a small college to an intellectual hub of the anti-apartheid struggle, to one of Africa’s premier research and teaching institutions.
“Now we have a very big university with a very large number of students and academics.
Sonia has worked with a lot of memorable people over the years, and has taken with her a lot of lessons from colleagues, managers, Directors and Head of Departments - but Dr George Fredericks will always stand out from the crowd. She worked with Dr Fredericks more closely - and for longer - than any other HOD, and both were always eager to trade advice.
Working at UWC has also afforded her children the opportunity to study, and actually become what they aspired to be.
“I love working with students,” she says. “You get the difficult ones and the more easy ones, but if you have the passion to get along with students you should treat them with respect and dignity - as if they were your own children.”
She adds that her time at UWC has taught her to practice patience - and that has helped her learn to deal with and listen to people and become a better person, who is always willing to assist.
“From here onwards, I would love to be involved in community work. I want to have fun, enjoy the outdoor life, and of course try to get the fishing rods out for practice without any work stress.”