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Graduation is truly a family affair for this Welsh couple

A husband and wife team who decided to go to university in their sixties have graduated together from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

Having become students in their sixties, Chris and Carol Connelly have graduated together from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD). They explain what this means to them.

A husband and wife team who decided to go to university in their sixties have graduated together from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

Carol and Chris Connelly both graduated at ceremonies on July 16, along with their daughter’s fiancée Adam Head. Two of their daughters, Sarah and Bethan previously graduated from UWTSD, making it a real family affair. Sarah graduated with a Creative Computer Design degree and Bethan with a degree in Psychology and Education.

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Carol, 65, had previously worked for Neath Port Talbot Council, where she managed a team of 70 staff before taking early retirement in 2016 following an aortic valve replacement. Having never gone to university, she decided it was time to set herself a new challenge – so she and Chris attended an open day at UWTSD in the summer of 2016.

“I got talking to the team who run the counselling courses and realised how much the subject interested me – so I decided to have a go and enrolled on the BA in Counselling Skills and Interdisciplinary studies,” says Carol.

Meanwhile, Chris discovered that the HND in Building Studies he gained in 1996 could count towards a degree. This motivated him to enrol on the Project and Construction Management degree course.

The couple, who live in Townhill, Swansea, loved being able to study at a local university and were delighted with the help they received along the way.

“I struggled with the academic writing in my first year, but I had excellent support, and the research side of the degree really set me alight,” says Carol.

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“The staff are excellent,” agrees Chris. “They are approachable, they get to know you and if you have a problem, they are always ready to help you.”

Chris followed his degree with a PGCE PCET, which will equip him deliver teaching and training. He received his certificate at the graduation ceremony on July 9, while Adam graduated in Computer Game Design.

Adam will be returning to the university next year to begin a computer animation masters and Carol will follow in Chris’ footsteps, joining the PGCE PCET course.

“It’s never too late to move forward,” she says. “I would encourage anyone considering studying as a mature student at UWTSD to make enquiries and speak to the staff. I find it quite romantic to be graduating together. We have a wall in our house where Chris and our three daughters have their graduation photos, and now my graduation photo will hang there too. It’s lovely.”

Caroline Lewis, programme director: BA (Hons) Education Studies and assistant director of academic discipline, is impressed by Carol and Chris’ success.

“Carol’s course was one of a number of counselling programmes available within the university, and Chris’ PGCE PCET is a good choice for a range of graduates who want to work within education and support and help others in their learning,” she says.

“To see a family progress through the university together has been really lovely. They have taken advantage of opportunities to support each other and really developed as learners during their time here. We often talk about the family feel of UWTSD; it’s a privilege to experience our students’ journeys with them.”

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