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30 May 2024

"It's never too late to do a PhD!"


Sally, one of our postgraduate ambassadors at Swansea University, shares her experience as a mature student.

It's never too late to do a PhD, and sometimes extensive experience of grass roots work within your research area can be advantageous.

I've just turned 50, and having worked in education for over twenty-five years as a Welsh teacher, a Welsh for Adults tutor, a Welsh Language Development Officer in Patagonia, and a Mudiad Meithrin Welsh Language Officer, I'm now in my second year at Swansea University completing a doctorate! What better way to celebrate my fiftieth birthday! 

The aim of my research is to identify best practice in the Cylch Meithrin playgroups by immersing children in the Welsh language, to ensure effective language acquisition, and create confident Welsh speakers.

While studying, I also continue to work a few hours each week as a Mudiad Meithrin Welsh Language Officer, and that ensures that I know about all the latest developments and changes that are happening in the early years and in education. 

I love studying, and I've met many other mature students, but age is just a number!

The other students are so supportive of each other, whatever their age. Juggling family duties, a job and studying can be challenging at times, but I'm lucky to have a strong support network, which includes very supportive colleagues, friends, and family. I am also guided by four very experienced supervisors, all of whom have their specialist areas, which enrich my experience as a student. 

Since starting my doctorate, I have taken advantage of a number of opportunities to attend courses with the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, to improve and strengthen my research skills. The courses have enabled me to discuss my research with other students and academics, and of course to do so through the medium of Welsh, which is very important to me. 

I had the privilege of winning the poster competition at the Research Conference last year, and doing things such as designing posters and creating videos about my research has helped improve my information technology skills significantly.

I am looking forward to completing the fieldwork very soon, and I hope my results and findings will be able to help practitioners facilitate their future work.

My research is vitally important to ensure that we increase the number of Welsh speakers, especially considering the Welsh Government's target of achieving one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

I would recommend anyone interested in completing a degree, a postgraduate course, or a doctorate, whatever your age, to take the leap! 

This is the best decision I have ever made.