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Life experience

Professional educator receives BA in sociology at fall convocation

special feature: Student success

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring convocation 2017.


By Janet Harron

Returning to university after a rewarding career as a teacher and college administrator, Gail Gosse put the theory of adult education into practice.

“My brain didn’t work nearly as quickly as it did when I was a teenager,” said the St. John’s native. “I found I was reading and reading again to get the information into my brain. But when it came to discussions in the classroom or doing papers, what I was learning made so much sense because I had the life experience to go along with it.”

Resource for learning

Those who research adult education see life experience as a resource for learning. For example, at one point one of Ms. Gosse’s professors asked the class what the film title The Lost Boys refers to.

Gail Gosse is a 2016 fall graduate at Memorial.
Gail Gosse is a 2016 fall graduate at Memorial.
Photo: Chris Hammond

“I answered Peter Pan. The rest of the class — who were all considerably younger — just didn’t make the connection,” she said

In a course on culture, Ms. Gosse wrote a paper on maternity wear and the means of production.

“From my perspective as a grandmother, I was able to comment on three generations of culture change and image acceptance around maternity wear.” — Gail Gosse

“In my mother’s day, the uniform of a pregnant woman was to wear their husband’s shirt,” she said. “And in my day, there were maternity suits in shops. From my perspective as a grandmother, I was able to comment on three generations of culture change and image acceptance around maternity wear.”

Courses for staff

In 2009 Ms. Gosse leapt at the chance to become a program developer in Memorial’s former Division of Lifelong Learning, after leaving a position as an administrator at the College of the North Atlantic. Among the major draws of the role was the support for staff to take courses.

“I felt very much like a teenager,” she remembers about enrolling. “I did exactly what a teenager would do. I went to the registrar’s office with all my transcripts and basically said, ‘What will you give me? What’s the next step?’”

As Ms. Gosse was only seven courses away from a BA in sociology from her previous time as a student at Memorial, it wasn’t a difficult decision.

Qatari experience

Fittingly, after taking a class in globalization, she was re-hired by the College of the North Atlantic to take up a position as dean of business studies at its Qatar campus in 2012. At that point, none of the courses she required were available online, so she waited until her stint in the Middle East was up to finish her degree.

This past summer she completed her final class, a distance course administered at Grenfell Campus on the history of witches and witchcraft in medieval Europe. Although she now has her hard-earned degree in hand, she isn’t closing the door on enrolling in more courses in the future.

“It’s been a lovely hobby and one that I very well may continue with . . . who knows?”


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