Julie Whyman

Student spotlight details

Inspiration received from her sixth-form English teacher eventually persuaded Julie Whyman to join our Certificate in English Literature course - which turned out to be the springboard she needed to jump straight into a Master's programme.

'I'm mum to two teenage children and I run my own public relations consultancy, specialising in regeneration projects. But my love of serious literature began in sixth form with an extraordinary English teacher, Mr Twambley.

'When I found myself at a crossroads many years later, I remembered his inspiration and longed to read English at University. That was going to be a major challenge, however, as I hadn’t formally studied anything in twenty-five years. So I went back to school.

'I started with the Department's online Study Skills course to brush up on essay writing skills, and then I embarked on a number of 10-week English literature courses.

'When I applied for the Certificate it was with the intention of eventually progressing onto an English degree. I could not have known then how the Foundation degree would change my life.

'After completing the Foundation course, I applied and was accepted to the Masters in Literature and Arts. I matriculated as a graduate student into Oxford University in October.

'The Master's in Literature and Arts is a part-time interdisciplinary programme spread over two years. There are twenty-five of us on the course, from all over the world, so there is always something to learn from each other and opportunities to engage in ways previously unimaginable.

'I do not know what I’ll do at the end of the course; I believe that it is the journey that matters, not the destination.

'I’m still heading up my own PR consultancy but instead of working primarily on a regional basis, I am working internationally.

'The best advice I can give anyone considering returning to education is to accept that no matter how little you think you know when you start, you will know both more and less when you finish; learn to feel comfortable out of your comfort zone; and always, but always, expect the unexpected.

'The Foundation Certificate has taught me so much more than what to read; more importantly, it has taught me how to read.'

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