A retired civil servant is celebrating after graduating from Swansea University - 50 years later than planned.
After missing out on university when she left school, Julia enjoyed a long career working for the Ministry of Defence – but her passion for learning never diminished.
“In my late 30s, when I was married with two children, I went to evening classes to study A-Level psychology and this rekindled a desire to go to university,” said 69-year-old Julia, who lives in Llangennech.
“However, it would have meant a move to Cardiff and that was impossible due to my domestic situation so, once again, I shelved any ideas of getting a degree.”
But four years ago, Julia’s dream started to become a reality.
“I applied to study Psychology and Criminology at Swansea, but I was unsuccessful as it was thought I had been out of full-time education for too long,” she said. “I was devastated.
“But two weeks later I received an email saying I’d been accepted for a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. At first I thought it was a hoax but then it sunk in – I was so happy.”
Julia set about preparing for life at university as a mature student and attended an open day at Swansea University in 2017.
And when the time came to enrol, she threw herself into her studies and every aspect of student life.
“When you wait 50 years to do something you don’t waste the opportunity when it finally comes,” said Julia.
“I have loved every minute of my time as an undergraduate. The modules have completely changed my point of view on just about everything and I now have a greater awareness of political issues that I perhaps glossed over in the past.
“I was really nervous at the start because I was very aware that I was older than everyone else. But I never experienced any negativity from students or lecturers with regards to my age and after overcoming my initial nervousness I became a total student – even getting tattoos and dying my hair purple!”
Julia will now return to the University in the autumn to start a master’s degree, and she harbours hopes of working with refugees and asylum seekers in the future.
“I would encourage any mature student to pursue their dreams,” she said. “It has been challenging but it has been worth it.
“Funding is available and over 60s are eligible for an annual grant so there are no financial worries associated with getting a degree as a mature student.”
Deborah Jones, one of Julia’s lecturers added: “Julia has been a true inspiration. She started her degree with a firm level of commitment, and it was apparent that even after only a few weeks of teaching, Julia would thrive in the educational environment.
“Julia has never missed a class and we have been privileged to watch her grow in confidence. We are delighted that she has decided to stay with the University and study for a master’s.”