Joanna Fry – Lifelong learning
Joanna Fry, the University’s Education Liaison Officer for Lifelong and Flexible Learning, has led by example by undertaking her second St Andrews degree.
Jo, who looks after 180 full and part-time students as part of her role within Admissions, crossed the stage as a student this week (Tuesday 20 June) to collect her PG Diploma in English Studies.
Originally from Irvine, Jo initially completed her undergraduate degree (MA Hons English 2013) over six years on the evening degree programme, whilst working full-time. She explained the challenges: “I worked full-time while I was a part-time student and part-time once I was a full-time student. After completing my undergraduate degree, I decided to continue as a postgraduate. I couldn’t have afforded to give up work to study, and to begin with the evening programme fitted in with work perfectly, but I wanted to progress into daytime study and I was able to because Admissions fully supported me to do this.
“I have been allowed to work flexible/reduced hours to accommodate my studies. I could never have done it otherwise. It’s not easy, you have to be really focused and organised. Good time management is a must! But if you want it enough, you find a way to keep motivated. It’s worth every minute of it.
“Not only have I learnt lots of ‘academic’ things, I have learnt loads about myself and what I am actually capable of. Going through this process, my self-confidence and belief in myself has grown so much. I had a handful of exams from school and I never thought for a minute that I could have a degree, never mind a postgraduate degree from any university, let alone St Andrews.
“Going through this process I have done things I never thought I could – I have given a speech to 200 people at the Scottish Parliament, given presentations to a room full of academics and taught basic study skills to students in FE Colleges just starting their journey. I have also been given the privilege of doing the Lifelong and Flexible Learning Officer job, so I get to help other people do what I have done.”
In addition to Jo graduating this week, fifteen of her fellow Evening degree students will cross the stage of the Younger Hall to collect their degrees. Jo will also be there to witness the first full-time honours students graduating from the STAR route (dedicated college/mature student route). She explained: “I have a pastoral/support role for these students once they get here. These students graduating this week is a real marker of how successful the project has been over the last five years, so it is a pretty big week for Lifelong Learning! It is just the icing on the cake that I graduate at the same time as them.
“I’m sad and glad that it’s over after all these years, but I’m not really sure what I will do with myself at the weekends now!” Jo’s advice for anyone considering the part-time degree? “Give it a go, you never know where it will lead. If I can do it, anyone can!”