Winter Graduation Stories
Diane Roberts graduates from Queen’s with dream degree in History
Diane Roberts graduated on Tuesday 15 December 2020 with a Master’s (MA) in History from the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast.
Diane, aged 54 and from Warrenpoint in Co Down, always dreamt of studying history, however, she ended up studying for a business degree when she went to university and had a very successful career in business. She said: “I started my own company in 2008, and have assisted many companies set up, get funding and grow. In 2017, I was driving home one evening listening to a radio programme which had a feature about returning to study later in life. It got me thinking, and before the weekend was over, I had applied to Queen’s to study my dream degree.
“Current affairs and history have always been a passion, and in recent years I have read many historical books so I was delighted to study the subject for ‘fun’. I have loved every minute of it and would encourage anyone thinking of going after their dream, to just do it, you will not regret it!”
Diane, who is dyslexic, found going back to academic writing an adjustment. Speaking about the support she received, she said:
“My School and in particular, Dr Marie Coleman, were so encouraging. It had been 25 years since I had written an essay and being dyslexic, I found that a challenge. Every time I reached out for help, from academic writing advice to finding archival material, the whole team at the School supported me.
“I also thought being a 'super mature' student would mean that I would be out of place, but I found I was one of several and it was never an issue.
“I did this Master's for me, for 'fun', as I kept telling people. The fun was being able to turn up at a lecture and get a world-class historian to share their research and expertise. My world has been opened to many different types of history. It was one of the best experiences of my life.”
Talking about her experience Diane commented:
“The campus is world-class and the facilities are excellent. I loved the Graduate School for writing papers, it was an inspiring location. I also really enjoyed the archival work as I am naturally inquisitive, so being able to 'discover' hidden truths was fascinating. I loved going to PRONI, and The Armagh Diocesan Archive. The COVID-19 pandemic limited this from March, and it was a challenge to find materials, but that also opened my mind to other sources that I would never have considered.”
During the pandemic, Diane’s daughter returned home from studying at university in Bristol and the mother and daughter team became each other’s support system. “We were a good support team for each other,” said Diane. “We went off and locked ourselves away for a writer's week in Killarney in August and both submitted our dissertations within two days of each other. It was hard work but we made it!”
Speaking about her graduation and looking ahead to the future, Diane said: “Graduating is bittersweet. I am delighted to have completed my Master’s, but I will miss going to Queen’s and continuing to learn. I am going to keep researching my dissertation topic when the archives open, and I hope to try and get a paper published one day.
“The restrictions will limit any wider family graduation celebrations, but I will celebrate with my immediate family at home. A bottle of champagne was sent by my sister so I will have that on ice for a toast.”
Wife hails hero husband as he graduates with a Master’s in International Relations from Queen’s.
Jonah Fambro graduated on Tuesday 15 December 2020 with a Master’s MA in International Relations from the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast.
Elise Fambro, from the USA, was the first to congratulate her husband, Jonah, on his graduation from Queen’s University Belfast, and hailed him a hero for achieving a Master’s while caring for her during a chronic illness and their two young children.
The couple, who moved from Utah to Belfast with their children Liam (aged 4) and Jaeleigh (aged 2), have endured an intense and gruelling year.
“For us, this Master’s not only signifies academic achievement, it will also always serve to remind me what can be achieved through perseverance and determination by the grace of God. I decided to undertake this Master’s to improve my job prospects and to be better equipped to serve international communities with my family. Little did I know what personal challenges I would have when I embarked on this course. I’m so thankful to have completed my Master’s – it feels like an amazing accomplishment given our circumstance.”
Jonah’s wife Elise, who contacted Queen’s University with their story, added,
“I am so proud of and thankful for my husband. Shortly after selling whatever didn’t fit in our suitcases and moving to Belfast, I became chronically ill and was so debilitated that I was no longer able to care for myself or my children. Jonah had to care for us all, while researching and trying to write a dissertation. The pandemic also impacted my treatment, with delayed appointments further hampering my recovery.”
“I am so impressed by the positive attitude and the relentless hardworking man I watched succeed so well at Queen’s despite being in the middle of a handful of crises. We are very grateful to Queen’s for being so flexible and supportive towards us.”
Jonah’s dissertation was in ‘Religious Legitimacy through NGO Formation’. The family is now back living in the United States. Jonah is currently working towards becoming an international missionary within the next year and hopes his Master’s will provide him insight on how to best care for the communities he serves.
This International Relations programme at Queen’s is designed to analyse various aspects of International Relations. Using methodology and theory, the course seeks to examine, explain and understand the issues, topics and processes that make up our world, from security and terrorism, migration and mobility, to global financial crises.
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