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Grandmother of seven, aged 76, overcomes severe visual impairment to graduate

23 July 2018

A grandmother from Bristol has graduated from the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology after discovering a love of learning in her 70s.

Eulinda Antonette Clarke-Akalanne – known as Antonette – was initially worried the University of Bristol wouldn't accept her because of her age but she flourished on a foundation course and has gone on to achieve a 2.1 in BA Anthropology.

Despite suffering from severe visual impairment, which worsened during her studies, Antonette persevered and enjoyed studying so much that she will be returning for a Masters degree in Black Humanities – a new course which starts at the University in September.

She collected her degree in front of her proud family in the Wills Memorial Building alongside the other 5,000 students of all ages who are graduating this week.

Antonette, who is now 76 and lives near Ashley Down, said: "For a long time I wanted to study Anthropology and considered doing it at the Open University while working as a nurse and midwife but I never had time due to managing my home and raising three children.

"When I retired from the NHS I did various voluntary jobs to fill my time, including being a respite foster carer and an advisor for Citizens Advise Bureau but something was still missing from my life, so when I heard about the Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities I thought it would be a wonderful way to get back into studying and achieve my dream - Anthropology.

"I have enjoyed studying at the university of Bristol. It's been a wonderful experience and I got on well with staff and students.  

"Graduating is a little bit frightening. It’s like leaving home, because university has been such a huge part of my life. Having said that, I will be returning in September to start a Master's degree. Learning is a lifelong ambition for me, it's part of me now."

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