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Mature student praised for contributing to the life of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.


12.07.2019

Studying for a university degree is not always about improving job prospects – it also offers a fresh and stimulating challenge in retirement.

Margaret G

Margaret Gallagher, a mature student in her 60s who has just graduated from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David with a high 2:1 MArts degree in Ancient Civilisations, has praised the University for building her confidence and helping her make the most out of life.  Her tutor has congratulated her for contributing so much to the life of the university. 

“For me, to stop learning is to stop living,” says Margaret. “I’ve always been a big reader and I’ve done loads of short courses over the years. After I retired, I did a few creative arts courses, but I needed to find a greater challenge.  I applied to do Chinese Studies, but quickly realised I wasn’t good enough at the language, so I changed to Ancient Civilisations instead.  This gave me much more opportunity to talk about ideas and have a good rant!”

She credits her studies with helping her to bounce back after a run of bad luck.

“Coming to University has helped me enormously,” she says. “I lost a lot of confidence after experiencing a couple of job redundancies in close succession - and I chose to retire rather than keep on fighting to find work at 60-plus.  But I had nothing to fill the gap in my life.  It is not uncommon to feel useless and pointless when you are no longer working, especially if you don’t have a family to care for - and that was certainly the case with me.”

While some retirees decide to take up volunteering, Margaret felt exhausted after decades of working in social care, so this did not feel like an option. 

“Coming to University has given me back my confidence and also gave me a sense of purpose over the last four years - and massively increased the size of my library,” she says.

“I had a great time getting into the subjects - I really learned a lot.  It was also very interesting coming into studying with many decades of life and work experience behind me.  It gave me a very different and much more pragmatic perspective than that of the younger students. I also enjoyed being a student rep and chasing things up for the other students.” 

After four years rebuilding her confidence, she is now volunteering at Cardigan Castle – a role that includes facilitating an exhibition next year, the plan of which she developed as part of a portfolio project the Exhibiting the Past module of her degree. 

“I’m also looking for other opportunities for adventure - and I highly recommend UWTSD to any other retired person,” she says.

Dr Katharina Zinn, Senior Lecturer for Egyptian Archaeology and Heritage, is delighted to have seen Margaret blossom in the course of her studies, and with how much she contributed to the life of the university during her time there.

“Margaret is one of the best examples for the benefit of having mature students on the campus,” she says. “For her, continuing education and learning meant upholding and improving quality of life, staying active and preparing for a volunteering life after graduation.

“In class, she brought students together drawing on her life experiences in the health care sector. I really enjoyed our lively discussion in class. As student rep, Margaret constantly improved the student experience for many of the 18-21-year-old students who were not yet confident enough to speak up and try to solve issues before they might become problems. Despite being out of education for some time, Margaret graduates with a well-deserved high 2:1.” 

For more information on the Ancient Civilization courses offered at UWTSD, please visit https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/ba-ancient-civilisations/