Growing up in the late sixties I regularly passed Leeds Trinity University thousands of times and always wanted to know what went on in these buildings. My dad used to tell me it was the home for destitute nuns, to a youngster I supposed that seemed plausible.
My first venture into Leeds Trinity was over 13 years ago whilst studying for an access certificate, however, the time to extend my learning did not seem right, with a young family and work commitments, my plans were shelved for the moment. Trinity was my main choice, with the course offering everything I was looking for. My main concern was now being accepted; a rather colourful past life could exclude me from further education.
After an informal chat, I was offered a place to study Criminology. I had been given a second chance to improve both my education and long-term employment opportunities. A lecturer reassured me that my former experiences and past events may be beneficial for my studies.
The first day was unnerving, especially sat amongst all these rather young students, I felt very old. The most memorable part was our introduction to Trinity and the course delivered by Paul Smith and his then assistant Danielle. He certainly made it clear what was expected (the hopes of becoming the next criminal profiler akin to "Cracker" was immediately dashed!).
The University is like an extension of a family, and after a short period the students realised I was not sent by their parents to spy on them in an unusual covert mission. I occasionally feel envious of my fellow students, they are just starting in their chosen career paths, whereas my time is more limited. I am delighted that I have studied alongside them, observing their growth and maturing during the last three years.
Studying at Leeds Trinity has changed my whole perspective; it was the first time I had been in full-time education for 43 years and I now have more confidence and skills unobtainable in my previous career. At 56 years old, I have had many new experiences and at times felt out of my comfort zone. However, fellow students regardless of the age difference readily accepted me into their study groups.
My only previous qualifications were in manual dexterity and the ability to use a steel back with a hinge in the middle – gone are my days wallowing around in mud! I now own a degree, something rarely achieved in the Clayton family. Ancestral documentation shows there has been only two others achieving this status since 1066.
My life has completely altered; Leeds Trinity has given me new skills, improved academic interests, combined with the ability to choose where I want to go and what I want to do when I get there. I am now preparing for an MA in Victorian Studies.
To all new students enjoy, don't be afraid to seek out help – staff are waiting to support, explain and encourage.
Be polite and speak to everyone, do your DLA (Direct Learning Activities), submit work on time, and finally enjoy looking back over the whole experience, it should be fun. (And don't forget to introduce yourself to Geoff the parking meter man, a quick friendly word about the highs and lows of the Leeds Rhinos may save in a fortune in the long run!)
Mature postgraduate Michael Clayton has been familiar with Leeds Trinity for many years prior to his studies. He graduated in July 2019 with a 2:1 in Criminology after previous hesitancies that he wouldn't be accepted onto the course. He is now pursuing an MA in Victorian Studies.
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