Stella Petersen received an honorary doctorate in education. She completed a BSc in botany and zoology, an MSc in science, a senior teaching diploma and a BEd degree at UCT. Her academic achievements won her a prestigious international educational fellowship to the United States, where she became the first South African to study at Syracuse University in New York, earning a master's degree in education in 1949.
Petersen has been described as a deeply revered and respected community figure, and was renowned for her dedication as a teacher, and the high standards she set her learners.
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