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Sophy, Exercise and Sports Science graduate, St. Luke's Campus

Hi, I’m Sophy, I’m 35 years old and I have just graduated from the University of Exeter with a first and Dean’s commendation- not bad for a disabled mature student with a teenager in tow hey!

It has taken me 5 long years to obtain this degree, during which I was significantly poorly and had to interrupt my degree then study part-time.

When I first started, I was the eldest on my course by over 10 years and the only one out of a cohort of nearly 600 (across all 3 years) that had a child, I felt completely on the periphery and that I did not belong. What helped me get through my degree and helped me to flourish in my higher education?

I got involved in extra curricular activities including a voluntary society working with stroke patients in the community – I now run that project. I also became a student ambassador; this has led to so many experiences where I have met an array of different people. It’s paid work that can fit in as you want with your timetable.

As a mature student on my course, the leaders went out of their way to support my learning, allowing for timetable adjustments and extensions during the pandemic when my daughter was home-learning, all of which made the world of difference to my outcomes. It’s not always easy; I have struggled at times to fit in with my peers, but my advice is to just get stuck in and show them that you are here to stay! So much so that I am now staying on to study post-grad, and through this perseverance, I have made some wonderful friends for life.

Being a mature student, you bring a wealth of additional skills and knowledge that are hugely valuable to higher education, and you can achieve remarkable things – don’t ever count yourself out. I finished my BSc with the highest accolade and an international research award under my belt too, I could not have even fathomed that 5 years ago when I had just completed my Access to HE course!