Lancaster University

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Mature Student Achieves Her Ambition After Half a Century

01/03/2011 00:00:00


Jacky Wilkinson
Jacky Wilkinson

A 70 year old student from Preston has gained a degree from Lancaster University fifty years after being denied a place at college.

Jacky Wilkinson was a teacher for 30 years before retiring from her job as a deputy head because of impaired sight and rheumatoid arthritis. She began studying to take her mind off the constant pain.

“It’s been a brilliant means of pain management. When you’re with young people, you feel the same as them and it makes me feel young. Going to Lancaster University has been wonderful and life enhancing. I have never once felt 70 and I’ve been made to feel so welcome.”

Jacky wanted to go to university as a young woman but lacked a qualification in Latin, which was then required. Half a century later, she fulfilled her ambition of becoming a graduate, first gaining her BA in Humanities and her MA in English Literature with the Open University and then gaining her PhD at Lancaster University. Her PhD was entitled ‘Thomas Hardy and the Carnivalesque’.

Jacky’s tutor Dr Tess Cosslett said: “I really enjoyed supervising Jacky, and we had many lively discussions. Like most mature students she worked very hard, and very quickly, completing her PhD within three years. Her only problem was a lack of confidence in her own ability, which I hope she now realises was completely unfounded.”

Lancaster University staff were particularly helpful in not only providing specialist equipment to assist Jacky’s limited vision but also providing moral support.

Jacky said: “The kindness and support of all the staff has been second to none. I don’t think that old people should be put out to grass for we’re as capable of study as young people if we get the chance. “

Her husband Ian acted as her carer, pushing her round the campus in her wheelchair and accompanying her to the library, lectures and tutorial sessions.

“Ian has been my constant support, none of this would have been possible without him. You can get cut off at home and now I’ve finished my PhD, I feel bereft.”

Jacky is now in the process of preparing her thesis for publication and is contemplating further study in either Classics or Creative Writing.