School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Brother and sister Kreesan and Chrysantha Palan both graduated this year.

Siblings Graduate Cum Laude from UKZN

It was a double celebration for the Palan family when siblings Kreesan and Chrysantha both graduated cum laude from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Kreesan graduated with Masters in Geology while Chrysantha graduated with Honours in Media and Cultural Studies.

Kreesan’s work during his honours year in 2015 earned him the Geological Society of South Africa’s (GSSA) Haughton Award, which boasts a long line of UKZN recipients. He chose to realise his dream of pursuing geological research at UKZN due to its reputation for being a research-driven institution.

His master’s research involved a detailed bathymetric and seismic analysis of a series of unusual submarine canyon system morphologies off the west coast of South Africa which are not accounted for in the literature.

‘Their peculiar morphologies were proposed to have evolved from a combination of conventional seafloor erosional processes and gas venting,’ said Palan.

‘The significance of this study is to suggest a new mechanism by which canyons evolve as the variables change depending on the various study sites around the world.’

Kreesan plans to pursue a PhD in Geology and progress to an academic career in this discipline. He thanked supervisors, Professor Andrew Green and Dr Errol Wiles, for their guidance and support during his studies.

His fashionista sister, Chrysantha, chose to pursue her postgraduate degree because she wanted to merge creativity with academia. ‘I’m very passionate about fashion and the creativity behind it.  I saw the opportunity to bridge a gap and I just couldn’t miss it.’

Her research gave an insight into Durban’s thrifting fashion subculture and how its members create cultural meanings in everyday life. It addressed the cultural meaning of fashion in a marginalised segment of society where expectations of conformity are confronted by individuals that use subcultural resistance to frame their identities.

Chrysantha described thrifting as a way of shopping for fascinating items at a low cost at second-hand retail stores, flea markets or charity shops.

‘People do not need to purchase garments at high prices and follow trends set by the elite. By engaging with thrifting, you are supporting local charities, creating your individual identity, and gradually stopping the environmental and social exploitation behind the fashion system,’ she said.

Their mother Alice, who is also a UKZN staff member, said she was extremely proud of both her children.

‘As a mother and staff member at the University, I fulfilled the role of a mother by making sure they got to campus on time to attend all their lectures and all assignments were done.  I also made sure that they balanced their lives around good eating plans and exercise, as this plays a pivot role in producing good mental stability and lesser stress levels.

‘I also counselled and guided them in a biblical way, as this was our lifestyle in our home, as I believe without God in our lives we are nothing.  Chrysantha has now registered for her masters and Kreesan for his PhD. They are the future shining stars of UKZN academia and their aim is to receive their doctorals.’

Words: Christine Cuénod and Melissa Mungroo