Cupar student who left school at 15 wins St Andrews University prize
Samantha Letham, who graduated from the University of St Andrews’ evening degree programme on Monday, has been rewarded for her achievements with the Fife Provost’s Prize.
The prize is awarded to an outstanding student who has persevered and flourished in their degree course, often despite challenging circumstances.
Samantha has been awarded the prize, for the most outstanding Evening Degree Student this year, in recognition of her excellent academic achievements and the commitment and dedication she has shown to completing her studies.
A member of the administrative staff in the School of Management at the University, Samantha graduated with an MA in Combined Studies.
The 41-year-old, who lives in Cupar, left school at 15-years-old with no intention of returning to learning but later, after completing various qualifications, considered a degree but remained unsure of which subject to study and lacked the usual entry qualifications.
On joining the university staff six years ago, she learned about the Evening Degree programme which allowed her to study a variety of subjects from Computer Science to Management, English, Psychology and Social Anthropology.
She even managed to train and run a half marathon while studying and working full-time in 2018.
Samantha said: “The MA programme is a fantastic programme as it allows anyone the opportunity to study for a degree even if you’ve not studied for many years. The study skills sessions organised before you start classes were invaluable in giving me the tools to learn effectively, and I met a few people in these sessions who became classmates.
“The academic staff who teach on the evening degree modules are also great as they understand what we are trying to achieve and the difficulties we may face with other commitments taking up our time. The Lifelong Learning team have been brilliant as well and have given me so much support and advice during my studies.”
Lockdown in March 2020 threw up even more obstacles as Samantha combined studying while adjusting to working from home alongside her husband who was teaching from home, but she soon adapted to online or pre-recorded lectures.
Samantha added: “I can’t quite believe that I have passed but I am so glad that I decided to go for it as it has been one of the best things I have ever decided to do.”
Normally the prize would be officially awarded at the university’s annual Lifelong Learning Graduation Reception, not possible this year given Covid restrictions, but will still come with a £100 prize.