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But Ms Steele has more reason than most to be grateful for the 19th-century women who broke down educational gender barriers: her great-great-great-aunt was Caroline Freeman, the first woman graduate from Otago.
Miss Freeman, whose sister married into the Brown family which eventually produced Ms Steele, graduated with a BA in English in 1885 when she was about 32 (her exact birthdate is not known).
She was especially remarkable because she had no secondary schooling and studied part-time for her university entrance qualifications while teaching at Caversham School.
In 1886, she founded Girton College, a private girls' school, and later founded another Girton in Christchurch.
The Dunedin Girton became part of Columba College in 1915.
Miss Freeman died in 1914.
Ms Steele (23), of Wellington, said she had not told anyone she was related to Miss Freeman during her five years' study at Otago.
"I didn't bring it up at all then, but I have now I am graduating. It makes it all the more special to have gone to the same university as she did."
She will graduate with a master of planning degree with distinction.