Interview with UWE English Language and Linguistics student, Lisa Stevens

by Craig Evans

Lisa started as an undergraduate at UWE in 2011, enrolling part-time on the English Language and Linguistics BA (Hons) degree course. She fits in her studies around being a mother and working full-time. I caught up with Lisa to find out more about her experiences and interests…


What made you decide to study for a degree in English Language and Linguistics?

Aged 18, having been offered a place at UCL and SOAS to study Linguistics and Anthropology, due to family illness (my mum had a stroke) I requested a year’s grace before taking up the place at SOAS. After a year during which I started earning a reasonable salary and running a car, I decided I didn’t want to return to full-time education. However, all through my life I have regretted not taking up the place. When the fees for studying were due to increase a couple of years ago I decided it was now or never and applied to UWE to study English Language and Linguistics part-time. Luckily I was accepted. It will take me 6 years to complete the course. I am now starting on my 3rd year but effectively am only just starting level 2.


Is this your first time in higher education, and if not, how does this time round compare with your previous experience?

All through my life I have continued to study various disciplines at various levels part-time, including Law, Accountancy, Languages. Each experience has been very different so it is almost impossible to compare them.


How do you manage to balance the demands of your working life with academic study?

Juggling a full-time job managing the Data, Exams and Admissions Team at a local secondary Academy, the demands of 4 children aged 10 to 21 and coping with uni coursework and exams has been challenging but I have loved every minute of it. I’m grateful to UWE for giving me the opportunity and (so far!) the timetabling team have been very obliging when I have requested seminar changes to minimise any difficulties. The lecturers have also been fantastic!


What would you say are the advantages and disadvantages of being a mature student (if you feel there are any at all)?

Advantages: having had a grammar school background (when they still existed) I had a grounding in Latin, which obviously helps with language. I feel I bring a much wider breadth of experience and perhaps a more balanced, relaxed view of the deadlines.

Disadvantages: I did worry, when I started, that I would be out on a limb, but actually I have found that the younger students are very open-minded, and for the most part that really hasn’t been a problem. The biggest issue I have is that I can’t hang around for coffee or a drink, because I have to rush back to work. It would be good to be involved in the social scene a bit more.


What has been your favourite topic covered on the course so far? What in particular have you enjoyed about it?

I loved the Old and Middle English bit. That is really my main interest, the development of language over time.


If you could invite any 5 people to a dinner party, dead or alive, who would they be?

Stephen King, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Julian May (can you spot my favourite genre?)


Do you have any role models or someone who has been an inspirational figure in your life?

Not really, everyone has their flaws.  I just believe in living life to the full, not ever judging people, and making the most of every opportunity. Also, be nice to people!


If you had 3 to choose, what would be your desert island discs?

At the moment, Crossfire by Brandon Flowers, Sometime around Midnight by Airborne Toxic Event, and Dance by The Brilliant Things (or maybe LIFEGOESON by Noah and the Whale…. hmm, very difficult to pin it down to 3!)


What’s the latest book you’ve read? Would you recommend it?

I’ve just read the two most recent JK Rowling, one in her own name and one under a pseudonym, for my book club. I loved the one written as Robert Galbraith. Her own one, not so much!


Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Where would you like to be?

Hopefully I will have finished my degree by then! It would be nice to think I could be using it, but who knows!


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