21 July 2011

A mother and son had the rare honour of graduating at the same ceremony at The University of Queensland recently.

Stephanie Golding graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours in classical languages, while her son Philip Helliwell graduated with a Bachelor of Arts at the UQ Centre, St Lucia.

They both completed most of their study via the same School in the Arts Faculty — the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics.

Stephanie studied part-time for the past 11 years while working full time as a professional staff member at UQ, most recently in the School of Mathematics and Physics.

It was the reverse situation for Philip, who studied full-time while working part-time in UQ’s Walter Harrison Law Library.

Stephanie said she was motivated to undertake a Classics degree because of her passion for all things ancient Roman.

However, she enrolled in the first semester Latin course on an impulse, igniting another passion equal to that for ancient history.

“At one level, the study of Latin has enhanced my self-knowledge,” she said.

“At another level, the study of Latin is providing the means with which to understand what I love most.

“Added to the list of the benefits of learning Latin is my increased understanding of English grammar and an overall improvement of my communication skills.”

Stephanie overcame the difficulties of having to work full-time as well as studying, becoming a single parent and losing a parent in the final semester of study in 2007.

She said dedicated UQ staff provided the motivation to keep going and the inspiration to do further study.

“Classics and Ancient History staff are especially approachable and it is their contagious passion that has been so inspirational for me,” she said.

“Dr Tom Stevenson, who was my honours thesis advisor, is an exceptionally insightful teacher and mentor.

“It is easy to see why so many Classics and Ancient History students develop a strong and often long-lasting bond with the discipline and staff.

“A Classics degree is definitely a degree for the world and one never knows in what direction it might lead.

“One of the many examples of a Latin and History graduate who has achieved is high profile Gail Kelly, CEO of Westpac Australia. “

Her son, Philip chose an extended major in Studies in Religion and a minor in Philosophy, simply because “he wanted to know”, although he was not initially prepared to have his world view challenged so fundamentally.

“The subject matter was always challenging, but the benefits of this learning, without doubt, lead to a deeper understanding of the world and where it is going,” he said.

“On a practical level, Philosophy develops the ability to think clearly, critically, and even creatively.

“Whatever one makes of it (the learning), it is always reflected in one’s output/attitude.”

Philip said that the learning offered by all the disciplines in the UQ School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics “provides any student with an immense personal value by preparing individuals for living in the world.”

He said he was especially inspired by and grateful for the insight of UQ Studies in Religion academic, Associate Professor Rick Strelan, who was always available to provide support and encouragement.

“You don’t graduate with an Arts degree without having been changed for the better,” he said.

Media: Jan King 0413 601 248