King’s Lynn college degree students are keeping it in the family

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A father and daughter are studying together at Lynn’s College of West Anglia after enrolling with hopes of expanding their Gray matter and completing their degrees.

Justin, 42, and Lucie Gray, 18, have just begun a three-year degree in psychosocial studies at the Lynn campus, and already have hopes of setting up a family counselling business together.

They decided to study alongside each other after Lucie received offers from universities in Cambridge and Lincoln, but realised the costs of studying away from home.

She said: “I was thinking about becoming a dentist, and then I looked into law, but they were both so competitive and I realised how hard it would be to find a placement for both. Then dad started talking about his course and it sounded really interesting, he thought it would be good if I didn’t know what to do.”

Justin suffered a back injury a year ago, which prevented him from continuing his job as warehouse operative and was looking for a new challenge.

He said: “I’d always done manual work and was brought up to do it – no-one went to university in my family. I left school at 16 with eight GCSEs, I’ve been out of education for 25 years. I’d always had an interest in psychology, but I didn’t even know they did degrees at the College until then.

“I had a family and I’ve damaged my back so I couldn’t be commuting every day to Cambridge to study, this was just ideal. I’ve had a lot of support and encouragement from the team here and I’m so grateful to be here.”

The pair, who are both the oldest and youngest students in the class, sit beside each other in class and study together at home, and both agree the balance works really well.

Lucie said: “My little sister finds it funny, but we like it. We can keep an eye on each other’s studying and if one of us doesn’t know the answer, the other usually does. We compete and the loser has to buy sweets for the other one.”

Justin added: “I hated technology when I was at work, so it’s been a learning curve just turning the laptop on, but Lucie shows me how.”

Their degree, which is validated by Anglia Ruskin University, has given them both the opportunity to study while maintaining their lives at home, Lucie is able to work as well.

Justin said: “If someone had said to me a few years ago I would be studying for a degree, I’d have died laughing, but a lot of people don’t realise you can study right on your doorstep.”

Course director, Janet Jones said “It’s been really wonderful having Justin and Lucie in the group.

“They’re able to support and help each other, and others, and they’ve even helped me with my research for my PHD. Justin and Lucie obviously have a great father-daughter relationship, which brings real inspiration to others in the group.

“I’ve been teaching here for 19 years, and although I’ve taught parents and children before, I’ve never had them in the same class before. They’re brilliant students.”