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Summer 2021

Queen’s graduate says, “It’s never too late to follow your dream!”

Rosemary Stevenson (aged 50) from Ballymena, Co Antrim, will graduate today with a First Class Honours degree and top of her class from Queen’s for the second time, having managed to do the same when graduating in Law from Queen’s in 1993.

Rosemary Stevenson
Rosemary Stevenson

Rosemary, who has practised in commercial property law for the past 25 years, said: “I've always loved history and while I’ve had a really enjoyable and interesting career as a lawyer, when approaching my half century, I thought if I don't do something about it now, I never will. I got married in 2018, just before starting the course, and I would never have embarked on such a crazy few years without the support and encouragement of my husband, Douglas who is a fellow Queen’s law grad.”

Rosemary has been in practice with Belfast law firm, Carson McDowell, since 1997, becoming its first female partner in 2001. She continued to work practically full-time since returning to Queen’s, and for the past two years has also taught one day per week in the School of Law at Queen’s alongside studying for her degree.

She commented: “When I started the degree, I hadn't planned to teach law as well, but the opportunity came up and was too interesting to turn down. I had also planned to scale back on my legal practice, but old habits die hard. It has been a busy few years, but I’m grateful to my firm Carson McDowell for giving me total flexibility, and to my clients for their continued support.

“I didn’t tell too many of my teachers that I was juggling other roles whilst studying, but those who knew were extremely supportive, particularly my long-suffering dissertation supervisor, Dr Andrew Holmes, who gave me a lot of flexibility to do things my way rather than in the usual sequence.”

Speaking about the most enjoyable part of her experience as a student at Queen’s for the second time, Rosemary explained: “I loved every moment of my history course. On an academic level – the exposure to such brilliant academics was fantastic. I was lucky enough to do a course with Professor Mary O'Dowd before she retired from teaching and count that as a great privilege. On a non-academic level, I participated in the Queen’s homework club scheme for two years until the pandemic hit. I volunteered at the Frank Gillen Centre and absolutely loved the kids there.”

After graduating, Rosemary plans to work on a book about Irish land law with Professor Heather Conway from the School of Law at Queen’s. She then hopes to go back and further her history studies with a view to teaching one day.


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