A retired lecturer has spoken of her joy at finally completing her PhD later in life.
Dr Jane Richardson undertook research into the effectiveness of group interventions in promoting nutritional improvement and behavioural change in women following treatment for breast cancer.
“I was already a Senior Lecturer at the University of Worcester teaching postgraduate Nutrition,” she said. “I had always wanted to complete a doctorate, so, when my children headed off to university, I decided that it was time to start. As part of my job, I was already involved in a lifestyle programme for women following breast cancer treatment. I wanted to carry out research to improve delivery of this type of intervention, so I enrolled as a part-time PhD student alongside my full-time teaching role.”
And for Jane, graduating with a PhD feels like the completion of a life-long dream.
“I am really thrilled,” she said. “I started a biology PhD in my early twenties and always regretted that I did not complete it. Graduating with a PhD now feels as though I have completed that unfinished business.”
Jane’s research found that lifestyle programmes like the one at the University of Worcester can help participants to make positive changes to both behaviour and nutrition that can boost wellbeing following treatment for breast cancer. Her work also highlighted the importance of participants sharing their experiences and learning together as part of this process, as well as the need for ongoing support once any such lifestyle programme had finished.
Studying part-time alongside her teaching, it took Jane seven years to complete her PhD, and they were an eventful seven years at that.
“During the seven-year period of my doctoral study, a lot of life events occurred. I lost both of my parents and both of my parents-in-law,” she said. “My children graduated, they got jobs, left home, bought houses. Towards the end of my studies, my husband and I both retired and then the pandemic happened, which did at least give me time to think and write, which became a real joy. I went on a travelling writing retreat with my brother and wrote part of one chapter while crossing the Pacific between Tokyo and Alaska.”
And although she has now retired from teaching at the University, Jane’s work in academia goes on.
“I am retired from teaching now, but I am currently writing articles for publication based on my doctoral study,” she said. “I am also planning to write a book about nutrition and breast cancer after that.”
“I am indebted to the women who participated in my study, without whom this work would not have been possible,” she added.
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