It is 20 years since the University of Glasgow first opened its doors to students on the Crichton Campus in Dumfries where its School of Interdisciplinary Studies continues to provide world-class, research-intensive undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research degree programmes.

Over those two decades hundreds of students have studied hard, gained their degree and headed off to put their knowledge to good use.

In this 20th anniversary year, two former students who have built very different, but equally successful, careers are keen to share their memories of their time at University.

Jo Kopela is a Health and Wellbeing Specialist with NHS Dumfries and Galloway; she graduated with a MLitt in Managing Health and Wellbeing in 2011.  She remembers her time at the University with great appreciation:

“I wanted a Masters that was most relevant to my work and fortunately the local campus could offer this. This meant I did not have to travel, making things much easier as I was working full-time. We were a relatively small group so we got to know each other and the tutors very well. I absolutely loved it.
“Working in Public Health means I have ongoing contact with the University and as a team we regularly facilitate student placements. It’s also lovely to meet some of these students who now have local employment and are doing well.
“The region is really fortunate to have such a good academic campus and having the University of Glasgow in Dumfries is very special.”

Mary Smith was one of the first cohort to enrol at the University of Glasgow in Dumfries in 1999.  Having left school to work in a bank, Mary later joined Oxfam which led to 10 years working with leprosy-control projects in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mary said: (Main Image) “I had looked at the Open University and had a pile of their literature but I never did anything about it.  Then I saw an advert for the summer school and I phoned for more information.  I read the brochure and put it with the rest, but the woman I spoke to about the summer school phoned me back and asked if she should sign me up and I agreed. 
“When I came to the summer school I thought this is what I want to do.  I started studying Health and Social Studies part-time but I felt I was missing out on student life because I always had to rush away for work when the others were meeting up for coffee and chatting.
“The University of Glasgow gave me a lot of self-confidence that I didn’t have.  It opened windows and doors and suddenly I started looking at the world in a different way.   I had always wanted to be a journalist and I did an eight-week placement at the Galloway News.  I used to send them local history pieces and I was often called in to work shifts before I got a full time job there.  After that I was a staff feature writer for Dumfries and Galloway Life magazine and I still do some freelance work for them which I really enjoy. 
“I left the magazine because I wanted to focus more on writing and that has been great.  As well as a novel set in Afghanistan and a memoir I have also published three local history titles a book of poetry and a short story collection.  My fourth local history book will be published later this year.
“My advice to anyone thinking about applying to the School of Interdisciplinary Studies is do it, go for it.  It is so important that people know they don’t have to move away to get a great education and having one of the world’s top 100 universities, the University of Glasgow, here means that people who come here to study can stay in the area after graduation.”

For further information about events taking place to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the University of Glasgow in Dumfries please visit the website at www.gla.ac.uk/events/dumfries/.

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