A Fife mum has been awarded a prestigious prize from St Andrews University after defying the odds to earn her degree.
Laura Paterson, of Leven, was given the Fife Provost Prize for evening student of the year from the university’s evening programme.
After initially having to drop out of university she got up at 5.30am daily with a new baby to travel two hours for a training course.
Laura, 41 , will graduate online with a BSc degree with distinction in general science on July 27 after her extraordinary academic journey.
She said: “Having been awarded the Fife Provost Prize for the most outstanding evening degree student 2020 as well as graduating with distinction means everything to me.
I haven’t looked back since. It has been an amazing experience, but I cannot lie it has also been tough.”
The mother of three, who also acts as a full-time carer for her mother who has dementia, had started university when she was 18 but pulled out when she became pregnant.
Determined to continue with her learning, she enrolled at the women’s technology centre in Dunfermline, which taught new technology skills to unemployed women.
To get there, she had to leave home at 5:30 am every morning with her young baby and faced a four-hour round trip.
She eventually gained qualifications and work experience and went on to college before securing a full-time local authority job.
Following the death of her father, an event which she described as “an exceptionally low point” in her life, Laura was encouraged by a work colleague who was doing the evening degree at St Andrews to apply to the programme.
She added: “I haven’t looked back since. It has been an amazing experience, but I cannot lie it has also been tough.
“I was doing a degree and progressing in my career whilst working full-time. I’m also married and a mother to three children, as well as a full-time carer for my elderly mother who has dementia.
“I have certainly learned good project management skills in juggling everything. That said, yes it was tough, but it was also such an amazing learning journey for me.”