Aberdeen mum celebrates graduation with a little help from her study buddy daughter
A north-east woman who overcame dyslexia has spoken of how she shared “study stress” with her student daughter.
Elizabeth McAlpine is one of very first people to earn a new masters degree in decommissioning – years after she was one of the first 10 women to work full-time offshore.
She decided to embark on university life after being redundant amid the oil downturn in 2016.
She said: “When I left school at 18, all my friends went to university.
“I couldn’t get to university because I was dyslexic, so I’ve had a long roundabout tour to get to where I am.
“So to then study at the University of Aberdeen was huge for me.
“I feel that decommissioning is an evolving party of the energy sector and I’m really glad that I’m part of it.”
Ms McAlpine, from Aberdeen, was able to study for her exams with a little help from 22-year-old daughter Ailsa, who is halfway through a postgraduate degree in dentistry.
“We were actually studying for exams together, we went to the library together,” she said.
“Because I went to university late on, my girls were just starting to go to university when I did my first degree, and it’s meant that I’ve been able to totally understand what they’ve been going through, the stresses, the struggles, and I think you just become a better parent and become more supportive.”
Orkney graduate Jack Reid chooses happiness over money
Orkney graduate Jack Reid has put happiness before money by deciding on a career in teaching, after graduating with a degree tailor-made for the oil industry.
Looking back at his time at Aberdeen University after graduating yesterday, the 21-year-old described the culture shock upon leaving island life behind for the “big city”.
He said: “In first year it was a big jump to come down to Aberdeen. It was a real eye-opener after growing up in Orkney, which is obviously quite a small place.
“It was quite a thought to come down to the big city, and for the first wee while I was a bit homesick, but after my Mum encouraged me to stick in and keep going, after the first semester I didn’t look back.
“It is difficult at first, moving away from home and learning to live on your own, not having your parents there cooking your food and all the rest of it.
“And then there’s the continuous workload that university gives you.
“My third and fourth year, in a way they’ve been very, very hard work, but looking back now, that time has been my highlight.
“All the hard work has been worthwhile. I’ve made lots of friends and enjoyed all the field trips I’ve been on.”
He added: “When leaving school it’s such a thought, deciding what you want to do.
“I would recommend taking a step back and thinking about what you could see yourself doing before committing.
“I’ve applied to do a post-grad at Edinburgh in geography teaching, so I’m actually branching out from geology and going into high school teaching.
“For me, it’s more about job satisfaction rather than the money and I think being a teacher would be a very rewarding job.”
‘There was a point when I thought “am I going to get there?”‘
North-east geography graduate William Jones is taking his first steps in radio after finding his calling through the extra-curricular opportunities offered by university.
While securing a BSc in Geography, Mr Jones from Inverbervie found time on top of his studies to rescue the University of Aberdeen’s student radio station, which had shut down a few years ago.
And the 21-year-old has already secured his first job as a radio producer south of the border with UCB, a Christian radio station based in Stoke-on-Trent.
“It is entirely unrelated to geography,” he admitted.
“Trying to balance my radio work with the degree wasn’t always easy.
“Restarting the radio station was a major achievement and one of the best things I did in my time here.
“I grew up in a family of radio fanatics and my parents both worked in the media.
“When I came here, the first thing I did at the Freshers Fayre was make a beeline for the radio station, where there were a couple of people trying to restart it.
“We just grew it from there and I now see a career for myself in radio, rather than geography.”
He added: “Writing my dissertation, there was a point where I thought –am I going to get there?
“But I’ve become more independent and more willing to accept new challenges.
“Graduation is obviously a great highlight, but I’ve also made a huge number of great friends, from all over the world.
“If there’s something you love, and something you want to do, then I would absolutely recommend people go to university in Aberdeen.
“It’s a great place to meet new people and do new things and a great place to explore.”
‘I’ll always look back on it as some of the best times of my life’
Moray man Niall Mark looked back on what he described as the best times of his life, after graduating with a Phd in Geology from Aberdeen University.
With lifelong friends and memories made, the 29-year-old from Drummuir, near Keith, has already embarked on his next phase after beginning work as a structural geologist for an oil and gas company in Edinburgh.
“With a Phd you have your highs and lows, but I’ve had a lot of support from family, and also a really good supervisor,” said Dr Mark.
“I was really well-supported by the oil industry as well, who sponsored me and gave me lot of help throughout my studies.
“It’s a good feeling to be able to call myself a doctor after all my studying.
“It was a big challenge to stay motivated and keep going at times.
“There were setbacks here and there, but you just have to get over those and keep going.”
He added: “It made me more confident coming to Aberdeen, I had a lot of opportunities in the oil industry here which I would never have found anywhere else.
“If you want to work in that industry, Aberdeen really is the best place to be.
“I did a lot of fieldwork, including in Utah in America, where we spent a month touring around.
“Aberdeen’s a great place to not only get a good degree but make friends from all over the world and make memories you’ll have for the rest of your life.
“I’ll always look back on it as some of the best times of my life.”