It was a day to celebrate today (Monday, July 14) for 21-year-old Sinéad Symons, who received her First Class BA Hons degree in Classical Civilisation and Latin from Swansea University.
Sinéad, from Ilfracombe, north Devon, received her degree at a Congregation for the University’s College of Arts and Humanities, held in the City and County of Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall, cheered on by her mum, dad, sister and boyfriend.
Sinéad, a former pupil of Ilfracombe Academy and Petroc College in Barnstaple where she studied her A Levels, undertook her three year degree in the College’s Department of History and Classics.
She applied for the programme after developing her interest through studying a Classical Civilisation at A Level.
“I really enjoyed it and my teacher was very passionate about the subject and furthered my interest in the subject, making me want to continue studying Classical Civilisation and to take up Latin at Swansea University, so I could read texts in their original language,” said Sinéad.
“My interest was also furthered through family holidays visiting ancient sites, seeing first hand where ancient civilisations used to live and being able to see for myself what I had read and studied.”
Dr Evelien Bracke, Sinéad’s language tutor, personal tutor and coordinator of the College’s Literacy through Latin project at Swansea University, said: “When I first started teaching Sinéad Latin at level 1, she immediately stood out as a really outstanding, committed student. She worked really hard and wanted to excel.
“Sinéad then also started taking part in the Literacy through Latin project, which aims to help improve Welsh primary school pupils’ literacy through the teaching of Latin. Sinead’s first posting was at a challenging school, yet she gave the teaching her full commitment. She also taught Year 6 pupils at Brynmill Primary this year and her classes were universally loved by her pupils.”
Sinéad said: “I got involved in the Literacy through Latin project to gain some teaching experience, as I knew that I wanted to become a Latin/Classics teacher. I enjoyed giving pupils the opportunity to learn Latin from a young age and being part of a project which shows how Latin can aid students' literacy.”
After the positive experience Sinéad gained through the Literacy through Latin project, Dr Bracke helped to her prepare to apply for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) teacher training programme in Classics, of which there are only approximately 30 places offered each year in the UK.
“Normally students need much more experience – both in teaching and Latin – to be accepted onto this competitive programme, but Sinéad, against the odds, was accepted and she will start teaching through a secondary PGCE at Bournemouth Dorset and Pool Secondary Training Partnership, based mainly at Bournemouth School for Boys, next academic year,” added Dr Bracke.
“It’s her hard work and dedication that have brought her well-deserved success. She is the first student from Swansea University to be accepted onto the PGCE programme in Classics and I couldn’t be prouder.
“Congratulationes – optime Sinéad! (Congratulations – well done Sinéad!)”
“I really enjoyed my course at Swansea, particularly the Latin and literature elements of my degree,” said Sinéad.
“My lecturers were very supportive in helping me to achieve my goals of getting a first class degree and gaining a place on a Classics/Latin PGCE.”