Back to the classroom for retired Sylvia

Sylvia Gourley, who is graduating with a Doctorate in Theology from the Institute of Theology at Queen's University Belfast.
Sylvia Gourley, who is graduating with a Doctorate in Theology from the Institute of Theology at Queen's University Belfast.

Larne woman Sylvia Gourley is celebrating success at Queen’s University Belfast graduating with a Doctorate in Theology.

After her premature retirement as an assistant director at one of the colleges of further and higher education, 66-year-old Sylvia was accepted to study a Masters of Divinity at Union Theological College, something she had always wanted to do.

She graduated in 2005 with distinction and after a break, she returned to study for her PhD in Theology at the Institute of Theology.

Whilst studying for her PhD, Sylvia continued to work part-time as well as keep up her extra-curricular activities, including directing the music at her church, supporting 11 schools for the Education Authority and attending her weekly Zumba classes.

This will be Sylvia’s third graduation ceremony at Queen’s, having previously completed her bachelors and Masters degrees at the University.

Sylvia said: “My time at Queen’s has been amazing and the support I have had from the Institute of Theology has been exemplary - particularly the various times when I decided that I was giving up. I have been inspired by all the activities and support provided to post-graduate students, including meditation.

“I am proof that if you have what seems to be an impossible goal, then go for it, keep trying, accept support and don’t let gender or age hold you back. What’s next for me - who knows? I’m still young.”