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A personal challenge leads to History Student of the Year.

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When Gail Colthurst graduated from Plymouth University recently, she was delighted to be awarded a first class degree in History, and surprised to be announced Plymouth's History student of the year. A satisfying and successful end to her higher education that began three years earlier when she set herself a personal challenge and enrolled at a local college to study a Foundation Degree in History, Heritage and Archaeology.

After a varied career, including newspaper journalism, working for Mendip District Council and working as an art technician in a local school, Gail's interest was sparked while visiting universities with her daughter who was applying to study history. Gail decided the time was right to study a degree herself, so she gave up her job and enrolled at college.

I've always been interested in history; it was one of the subjects I studied at school and I would have studied it further if I hadn't gone into journalism. Studying a degree at college is a good alternate route into higher education. It was very convenient for me as the college is only 20 minutes away from my home. The course is wide ranging and covers lots of elements of history. I knew I would enjoy it and it was a great grounding for the final year at Plymouth University. The one to one support from tutors at college was a great help.

Gail Colthurst

Now that Gail has gained her degree, she is continuing the voluntary work she began while studying at college - she is a Learning Volunteer at the National Trust's Montacute House in Somerset, where she supports visiting school children.

Gail's daughter gained her history degree from Newcastle University and her youngest son is considering studying ancient history.

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