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Award for outstanding mature student

A mother of two young children studying for a part-time degree at the University of St Andrews has been rewarded for the dedication she has demonstrated over the last year.

Master of Arts student Mrs Mhairi Young, is the third recipient of the Fife Council Convener’s Prize, and has been singled out for her achievements in the 2002-03 session.

The part-time Evening Degree initiative, which was launched in 2000, is aimed at adults over the age of 21 who would like to study for a degree. Depending on prior qualifications and whether the student prefers to study one or two sessions a week, a General MA degree can be obtained within 3 to 9 years. The year 2003 will see the first cohort of part-time students graduate.

Mhairi (42), a mother of two young children from Auchtermuchty, has just completed the first year of a General Degree in which she combined evening and daytime study of Russian and Information Technology. She was class representative in IT and has particularly excelled in Russian, which she intends to continue to Honours level. Her interest in Russian language and history arose from her involvement in Bel-Aid, a local charity which takes supplies to Belarus and offers respite care to children from this area each Summer. Mhairi regularly provides a foster home for such children.

Part-time degree co-ordinator Nicky Haxell said:

“Mhairi has had a very successful first year of undergraduate study, and is organised, well-prepared and enthusiastic for her degree studies ahead. In May she was elected to the SRC as Representative for Part-time Students, for 2003-04, and is working on a full programme of social and information events for all part-timers for the forthcoming session.

“That she has successfully combined family responsibilities, community involvement and high academic standards is an achievement in itself. It must also be added that Mhairi has difficulties with walking and sitting; she uses a wheelchair on occasion and is often in considerable pain. Her unfailing good humour, the warmth of her personality, and her abounding love of life and learning, has made her many friends among her fellow students and teaching staff in the University.”

Mhairi, who hopes to graduate by the end of the decade, said:

“I was absolutely over the moon when I heard I was to be given this award. I have loved my first year at St Andrews and have been amazed and overwhelmed at how friendly and welcoming my fellow students have been. It was quite daunting coming to University at first but I was accepted instantly and settling in hasn’t been a problem. I’ve had help and support from Student Support Services with my disability, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without. I’ve made a lot of good friends and am looking forward to going back after the break. My tutors have been brilliant too, as they know how to bring out the best in their students.

“I wanted to go to University to better myself and after a career in nursing and looking after young children, I decided it was now or never. But I never anticipated the friendships I would form.”

Mhairi was formally honoured at a reception in St Andrews last night, which was attended by Fife Council’s Convener, Mr John Simpson, the University’s part- time degree co-ordinator, Nicky Haxell, Vice-Principal for Teaching and the Dean of Arts, Dr Christopher Smith.

The reception was also attended by over 40 matriculating students, who are beginning their part-time degree studies this year.

Students returning to study after a gap are eased back into the way of things with a specially- designed study skills programme at the start of the course. Various financial arrangements are also in place to help those on low incomes take advantage of this flexible academic programme.

Further information about the degree course can be obtained from Nicky Haxell, Part-time Degree Co- ordinator, Admissions: Continuing Education, 66 North Street, St Andrews KY16 9AH, telephone 01334 462203.

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050103, or email gec3@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: Fife Council Convenors Prize 220803 View the latest University news at http://calvin.st- andrews.ac.uk/external_relations/ne ws.cfm

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