Samantha Withers always wanted to go to university and 25 years later she is achieving her goal and graduating from Robert Gordon University (RGU) with an MSc in Quality Management.
The 45-year-old, who lives in New Deer, took to the stage on Monday 8th of December at The Music Hall to collect her masters degree.
Samantha didn't live in the same place long enough to begin university when she was younger as her father was in the RAF. When she did begin university, after getting married and having two children, she had to stop studying due to health issues.
She said: "I grew up in the services, living in places such as Scotland, England, Cyprus and Gibraltar and then I married young and my ex-husband was in the RAF so I continued to move around a lot.
"University was always something I wanted to do but just never got the chance.
"Exova UK Ltd, the company I work for, asked if I would like to obtain an MSc and I started an MSc Business Management at the University of the West of England. However, Exova then asked if I would move up to Aberdeen to run a new laboratory and as soon as I arrived I looked for an MSc that I could study. RGU's Quality Management distance learning course was ideal as it meant if I had to move again I could carry on studying.
"I chose quality management as I believe running a business using the quality management philosophies is the way to a successful and sustainable business. The course was well structured and the assignments have all been very contemporary looking at up to date issues.
"I have really enjoyed the course and it has been really interesting. However, I can't deny it has been difficult at times - working full-time setting up a new laboratory for the last three years while studying has been a real challenge. My dissertation was due in on the 1st October and I was also moving the laboratory into a new purpose built facility at the same time so there wasn't much time to sleep. I have a nine year old son and even he was trying to help by reading my dissertation for me!"
Samantha said her highlights of the last three years have been achieving such good grades – eight A's and one B which she is very proud of.
"I obtained a grade A for my dissertation and with everything that was going on at the same time I think this was quite an achievement," she said.
Samantha continued: "I wanted to study from the age of 20 and 25 years later I have achieved my goal.
"It took a long time and a lot of life changes to get here. I met my current husband Keith 15 years ago and he has supported and encouraged me the whole way. My 25-year-old daughter Hayley also married this year while I was writing my dissertation and she now wants to study for a degree which is great – no one else in my family has ever obtained a degree or been to university so now they are all inspired.
"My other daughter Frances is 21 and is currently doing an Open University course so that she can then do a degree in midwifery. My son Oliver is nine years old and is already talking about going to university when he is older so he can become an engineer and work for Lego.
"We had to move house this year during my studies as we were renting and our landlords decided to sell, we have bought our house in New Deer which is the first house we have owned – as you can see, a lot has happened this year!
"After Graduation, I am looking forward to spending some time with my family and enjoying Christmas. This will be the first Christmas in three years that I haven't been frantically writing assignments over the festive period."
Samantha hopes to become the director of quality for an organisation that puts quality at the centre of everything they do.
Communications Officer | Aberdeen Business School