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Fife woman’s extraordinary academic journey

Laura Paterson (41) from Leven has been awarded the Fife Provost Prize for Evening Student of the Year from the University’s Evening Programme.

Mother of three and full-time carer Laura began studying with the University in 2013 and will graduate on Monday 27 July BSc General Science with Distinction after an extraordinary academic journey.

After struggling with dyslexia at school, Laura first attended university at the age of 18 but decided to leave after becoming pregnant.

Determined to continue with her learning, she left home at 5.30 every morning with her young baby to travel two hours to a women’s technology centre in Dunfermline, which provided new technology skills to unemployed women.

She gained qualifications and work experience and went on to college before securing a full-time local authority job.

Following the death of her father, which she described as “an exceptionally low point” in her life, Laura was encouraged by a work colleague who was doing the evening degree at St Andrews to apply to the programme.

Laura said: “I haven’t looked back since. It has been an amazing experience, but I cannot lie it has also been tough. I was doing a degree and progressing in my career whilst working full-time.

“Furthermore, I am married and a mother to three children, as well as a full-time carer for my elderly mother who has dementia. I have certainly learned good project management skills in juggling everything. That said, yes it was tough, but it was also such an amazing learning journey for me.

“Having been awarded the Fife Provost Prize for the most outstanding Evening Degree Student 2020 as well as graduating with distinction means everything to me. It has awarded my fight to keep learning no matter how hard life events through at me. It has made it worth it.”


St Andrews graduating Class of 2020 will take part in unique, virtual, online celebrations to confer their degrees starting on Monday 27 July. Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sally Mapstone will preside as the names of more than 1900 graduates are conferred and prizes awarded.

The Class of 2020 will return to St Andrews to take part in graduation ceremonies and celebrate with friends and family in person in June next year.

The University of St Andrews part-time evening programme leads to an interdisciplinary degree qualification, covering a range of subjects, designed and delivered specifically for adults looking to return to education who may have other commitments that prevent them from returning to full-time study. There are no formal entry qualifications, and full funding may be available.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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