Woman Who Dropped Out at 14 Earns PhD, Inspires as First-Generation Student

Dr Suzella Palmer's inspiring journey from school dropout to PhD and university lecturer highlights the transformative power of education and the importance of widening access to higher ed for diverse backgrounds.

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Mazhar Abbas
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Woman Who Dropped Out at 14 Earns PhD, Inspires as First-Generation Student

Woman Who Dropped Out at 14 Earns PhD, Inspires as First-Generation Student

Dr Suzella Palmer, 53, who dropped out of school at the age of 14, has transformed her life by earning a university degree and PhD in criminology from the University of Bedfordshire in Luton.

Palmer's inspiring story is being featured in the "100 Faces" campaign, which celebrates the positive impact of first-generation university students.

Despite initially thinking she might not "fit in" at university, Palmer found that being around people with similar interests made her feel like she belonged. She now teaches applied social studies and serves as a role model for others who may have faced challenges in their educational journey.

Why this matters: Palmer's story highlights the transformative power of education and the importance of providing access to higher education for a wider range of people. Her success as a first-generation university student emphasizes the need for initiatives that support and encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds to pursue their educational goals.

The "100 Faces" campaign also featured Megan Murphy, who graduated with a First Class degree in Radio and Audio in 2021 and is now a presenter for ITV Channel. Universities UK, which represents 142 institutions, stressed the responsibility of universities to ensure that more people have access to the "potentially transformative experience" of attending university.

The organization called for the reinstatement of maintenance grants in England and adjustments to maintenance loans to reflect real rates of inflation, which would help support students from various backgrounds in pursuing higher education.

Dr Suzella Palmer's journey from dropping out of school at 14 to earning a PhD and becoming a university lecturer is a testament to the life-changing impact of education. Her story, along with those of other first-generation university students featured in the "100 Faces" campaign, serves as an inspiration for individuals who may have faced obstacles in their educational pursuits and highlights the importance of initiatives that promote access to higher education for all.

Key Takeaways

  • Dr. Suzella Palmer, 53, earned a PhD in criminology after dropping out at 14.
  • Palmer's story is featured in the "100 Faces" campaign celebrating first-gen students.
  • Palmer found a sense of belonging at university and now teaches applied social studies.
  • The "100 Faces" campaign also featured Megan Murphy, a first-class radio graduate.
  • Universities UK calls for reinstating maintenance grants and adjusting loans to support students.