BA Politics, Philosophy and HistoryAfter working as an insurance broker for 30 years, Gavin Newton felt that he was getting to a stage when he needed to start thinking about his options for the future:
'I don’t like golf or gardening - and politics, philosophy and history were always my favourite subjects, so it was perfect when I discovered that I could do a degree in all three at Birkbeck.
Gavin originally took an LLB in Law in the 1970s, but he never actually pursued that path.
'I had always wanted to study something less vocational, so I came to a Birkbeck open evening in September to look at short courses. The BA caught my eye, and I signed up immediately and started a few weeks later.
'It was quite a shock to come back to study after so many years. I was surprised how much the ideas had developed and how teaching methods and technology had changed. Despite the initial adjustments, I stuck with it and soon felt very comfortable at Birkbeck.
'I liked the fact that most of my fellow students were working, many had kids and were of different ages. Everyone was very motivated and really wanted to learn. It felt like a very adult environment. I am a great supporter of life long learning and think that you should always explore new avenues and challenge yourself. It is easy to become stuck in an intellectual rut. I wish I had done this course 10 years earlier, but this was the right time for me. My confidence has grown and I now feel more intellectually at peace with myself.'
Gavin’s job at Willis Limited is based in the City, so Birkbeck’s central location suited him perfectly:
'I could get in quickly after work. I live out in Surrey so if I hadn’t been at work during the day, I am not sure I would have stuck with the commute! In London it is easy to get stuck in your own bubble and not to meet anyone new, but at Birkbeck I made some great friends with people who I would never otherwise have met.
'I have just started my MA at Birkbeck in the History of Ideas and in time I want to explore new projects such as teaching and charitable work. This degree has opened up other universes for me to pursue. People can be very single-minded about education and think that there is only one route. Going straight to university after school doesn’t suit everyone and there are other options. Birkbeck is one of London’s little known gems.'
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