A Newtongrange woman has shown that age is no barrier when it comes to embarking on a university education.
Linda Ferry, who will celebrate her 60th birthday in October, graduated with BSc (Hons) Podiatry from Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh last week.
She celebrated her success with family and 800 students at a grand ceremony held in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.
Linda, who originally worked in optometry, decided to return to education in 2014. She was spurred on to create a positive new future for herself having battled with Multiple Myeloma, a leukaemia-related disease for several years.
When she finally felt strong enough, she signed up for an Access course at Newbattle Abbey College in Midlothian. Having successfully completed the year-long course, she moved into the BSc (Hons) Psychology at QMU.
However, after a year, she opted to change direction and move course to study podiatry.
Linda said: “I was accepted to study at three universities, but the friendly and welcoming environment at QMU helped me decide that this was the university for me. It has a great atmosphere and the staff and students are all so supportive. Everyone is invested in helping you be the best you can be.
“I have absolutely loved studying podiatry. The clinical placements were my favourite part of the course. They offered great opportunities for me to apply the theory taught in lectures into practice. In addition, it allowed me to develop my hands-on skills of patient assessment and treatment.The interaction with patients and knowing you make a difference to the health and wellbeing is particularly rewarding.
”As a mature student I was slightly apprehensive about taking on a degree course, but I couldn’t have asked for better support. The podiatry staff team, particularly my Personal Academic Tutor, Mr John Veto, have been fabulous and have encouraged me to develop and achieve my goals. It worked out well.”
Linda opted for the podiatry course because she could see that it had very clear career outcomes.
She said: “I was very happy to develop my career as an allied health profession either within the NHS or within private practice and I knew that the job market for podiatrists is excellent. Nearly all of the students on our course have secured podiatry posts and the ones that have not probably want a break before going straight into the profession.
“Towards the end of my fourth year I had the opportunity to shadow a QMU podiatry graduate who has a very successful private practice. Tweed Podiatry has clinics in Kelso and Berwick. This was such an excellent opportunity to, not only consolidate my clinical skills, but also learn about the business aspects of private practice. Following on from this period of shadowing, I was fortunate to be offered a position as an associate podiatrist working as part of their small team. This is a fantastic opportunity and I am so excited to start working in the Scottish Borders, although I will remain living in Midlothian.”
Linda concluded: “I have had a great student experience at QMU and I did not have a problem fitting in. There are lots of other mature students and age is definitely not a barrier to progression. University is a lot of hard work but it’s so worth it. I feel very positive about the future and excited about the next phase of my life in the podiatry profession.”
John Veto, Senior Lecturer, said: “I am very proud of Linda’s achievements. She has worked consistently hard throughout the programme balancing a busy home life with academic study. She, too, should be proud of what she has achieved during her time at QMU.
“As her Personal Academic Tutor it is so rewarding to see how she has developed both academically and clinically during her time with us, and how ambitious she is to forge a successful career as a podiatrist.”