After taking a break from education for 33 years I arrived at St. Andrews as a wide eyed, enthusiastic and somewhat nervous undergraduate much like everyone else. I did worry that my age would be a barrier and, looking back, I now realise that it worried me far more than the steep academic learning curve I was about to embark upon.
I'm about to enter my third year and still pinch myself everyday. St Andrews University has surpassed all my expectations. I've written essays, been in a foam fight, put in all- nighters, took part in the May Dip and passed exams!! I've found new subjects I love and those which make my blood run cold.
I believe, that no matter how much work i'd put in, I wouldn't have got this far without having the good fortune to find myself among a group of people who are inspirational, supportive and above all inclusive. This 'group'are my fellow students of all ages and backgrounds.
Our oldest Graduate this year was a lady called Joyce, aged 85. When asked about her degree, Joyce, talked about her peers and paid tribute to the fact that they made her feel like any other student. I want every mature student who enters the University of St Andrews to have the same positive experience as me, Joyce, and a growing community of Lifelong Learners.
I volunteered to join the SRC as member for Age Equality with one aim in mind, to ensure that mature students have access to the same opportunities as every other student. It's important that mature students know how to access the support they require but also that they feel able and motivated to get involved in 'university life'.
We are all guilty of having preconceived ideas and I've learnt that 'university life' is not just about being in the Union till closing time. Our Student Association not only welcomes mature students but is actively seeking to promote the profile of mature students here at St Andrews. The Association supports family friendly events and provides us with a platform in which we can continue to build a culture of social interaction, peer support and collaboration in order to continually improve our student experience. This platform is the Lifelong and flexible Learners Forum, now affectionately known as 'Lifers'.
'Lifers' has on online community but also recognises that social media is not for everyone and sends out regular updates by e mail. The Lifers Forum meets monthly and has a fabulous committee which represents the views of commuting students, student parents, post grad students and evening/part time degree students. We also have a Secretary a Treasurer and a representative without portfolio. All students are welcome to attend our meetings.
This year will be my second year as the member for age equality, i have found working with the student association immensely rewarding, fun and a superb development opportunity. I would strongly recommend getting involved with your union, there is so much on offer for all students. Whatever stage you are at in life the students association will make you very, very welcome.
To summarise , I am the voice of mature students on the student representative council but, in order to be authentic, I need to hear your concerns, your views, your feedback. Please get in touch and get involved.
You can contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find the Lifelong Learners Forum on Facebook or email: email@example.com