UWTSD study buddies graduate


Friends Anna Murphy and Leanne Bowen went back to university as mature students and worked as teaching assistants throughout their studies. They explain how it feels to have both achieved Master’s degrees.

Anna Murphy and Lianne Bowen

Two friends graduated from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) this week following a transformational journey that took them from undergraduate teaching assistants to master’s graduates.

Anna Murphy, 44, from Aberdare and Lianne Bowen, 35, from Pontyberem, originally joined the University on a Foundation Degree for Teaching Assistants and then completed a BA top up, studying part time, before moving on to complete Master’s degrees in Equity and Diversity.

Both worked as Teaching Assistants throughout their studies at the University’s Carmarthen campus, and they credit each other with providing the support and encouragement to press on to achieve ever-higher qualifications while also holding down jobs.

Anna lacked confidence when she began her studies, but quickly found her feet as a student.

“Along with gaining great self-confidence in my own ability, I also gained many life-long friends,” she says. “As a group, we seemed to bond very well and supported each other from the beginning through to both foundation and degree graduation.

“The decision to continue to Master’s level was a difficult one and was only made with the encouragement of my good friend Lianne. She is such an inspiration and I knew that with her as my fellow student, I would have someone who could share the experience and give support along the way.”

Besides working as a teaching assistant during her degree studies, Lianne resat her GCSEs and gained a Level 3 Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development. She is delighted she decided to resume her studies.

“I am a mature student and the first in my family to attend university and it was the best decision I’ve made,” she says. “University has taught me a lot and shaped me to be who I am today and be a great role model for my sixteen-year-old daughter. I have met some amazing people along this journey, and it has honestly been the most life changing experience.”

She adds that the MA in Equity and Diversity in Society has been a great boost for her career: she carried out research at her work setting, which has been used to improve policy and practices within the school. It has also gained her more responsibilities at the school.

“I do not think I will ever want my academic journey to end as I am very passionate about research and learning,” she says. “I am now in the process of applying to undertake a PhD at UWTSD.”

Anna is also enjoying new possibilities that previously seemed inaccessible.

“I am hoping to look into other career paths which would give me the opportunities of using my new found knowledge and understanding of equality and diversity either in different areas of education or possibly within a different sector altogether,” she says.

“If someone had told me 10 years ago I would be graduating from a masters, I would have laughed at the idea. It has been an amazing journey and I have made some great friends along the way.  I am excited to see what the future holds for me.”   

Dr Nichola Welton, senior lecturer in the School of Social Justice and Inclusion, is delighted to see how Anna and Lianne have progressed.

“Lianne and Anna have both engaged in a transformative learning journey, completing all programmes and progressing to an MA is an achievement to be celebrated,” she says. “Not only have they made a huge academic achievement, this work has fed back into their workplace and communities, helping to influence and improve practice in education.  

“The programmes we offer within the discipline of Social Justice and Inclusion offer an opportunity to undertake academic qualifications in a flexible and supportive environment. A large percentage of our students are mature and bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge that helps to link real-world situations to their learning enabling the development of links between theory and practice.”

To find out more about the MA in Equity and Diversity and Society, please visit https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/ma-equity-diversity-society/

Further Information

For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies by emailing sian-elin.davies@uwtsd.ac.uk / 01267 676908 / 07449 998476