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23 July 2018
UWC alumni couple flourishes in the UK
She was a Mathematical Science student; he, a Computer Science scholar. Today, almost three decades ago love blossomed in a computer science laboratory at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Rochelle (nee Koen) and Vernon Sassman are living happily ever after in the United Kingdom (UK).

“Obviously we will always hold UWC dear to us as it gave us each other! We met in the computer science laboratory...way back in 1991 and we have been together ever since,” says Vernon.

After graduation, the couple worked for a few years before getting married in 1998 and then moved abroad.

Vernon obtained an MSc in IT from the University of Liverpool, and Rochelle obtained her masters and PhD degrees from Coventry University.

“It was made extra special when my parents were able to attend my PhD graduation ceremony in 2014,” she comments.

Rochelle is an associate professor at the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics at Coventry University and Vernon is a Systems, Applications and Products (SAP) Data Migration Manager for a pharmaceutical wholesaler.

The couple have two sons: Ethan, who will be 16 in August, and 13-year-old Declan.

Ethan has just finished his GCSE exam and will be starting his A-levels shortly. He wants to study physiotherapy and would like to specialise in sports therapy later. Declan loves gaming, has an interest in software development and would ultimately like to teach computer science.

The Sassman family love travelling and exploring the world. Both boys have aspirations to further their education by attending university - and hopefully spending some time at UWC as part of their academic journey.

Rochelle comments: “Our greatest achievement is being able to build a life and starting a family in a new country. We both studied further.”

Husband and wife are proud to be part of the growing UWC alumni community in the UK.

Rochelle says it is “wonderful” to see how the strong foundation that UWC instills in students has made it possible for them to flourish within the international arena.

“It is also inspiring to read the UWC newsletters and website and see how UWC has progressed, especially over the past 20 years, by producing world-class citizens,” she says.

Vernon shares that feeling.

“Since we left the university in the 1990s, the institution has definitely grown into a world-class university in terms of its research, teaching and learning, and improving its profile by collaborating with universities - not only in Africa, but in Europe, Asia and beyond,” he says. “We are extremely proud to be associated with this university.”