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Taking the leap

Spring graduate completes BA decades after she started her degree

special feature: Class of 2021

The Gazette’s latest special feature celebrates Memorial’s newest alumni.

By Terri Coles

Returning to university after a long break can be daunting.

But it’s even harder if you delay your decision, reasons spring 2021 graduate Amie Richards.

“The only thing worse than going back at your age is going back at your age plus one year,” said Ms. Richards, who just completed her bachelor of arts degree nearly two decades after she first enrolled.

“And it’s never too late for a career change, or to finish what you started.”

Like many students, Ms. Richards first entered university at 18 but completed just three semesters before leaving. Her career took various paths over the years, she says, but she felt like she was “bouncing around.”

Finally, she decided to return to school.

“I’ve always wanted to come back, and I was focused enough and had enough of a path that I wanted to follow that it was time.”

A new path

When she returned to Memorial, Ms. Richards intended to study social work. However, she found herself drawn to a different academic focus.

“I took some sociology courses and really fell in love,” she said.

She completed Memorial’s certificate program in criminology and diploma program in police studies, initially focusing on sociology courses in those subject areas.

But a course on the sociology of space sparked her interest in other areas of the discipline. Ultimately, she completed her degree with a double major in sociology (honours) and law and society.

Along the way, Ms. Richardson managed some significant challenges. One of those was juggling school and child care.

For example, when one of her children was in the hospital, she studied for exams in the hospital room. Then she walked across the Janeway parking lot to write them.

It was also mentally daunting to return to a classroom where she was closer in age to the professors than the students, she says. But once she found herself getting good grades and excelling in her courses, she was encouraged.

Back to school… again

The result of that hard work — and those good grades — is that Ms. Richards is once again returning to school this September.

This fall she will begin graduate school at Memorial to complete her master of arts degree in sociology, supervised by Dr. Lisa-Jo van den Scott.

Eventually, Ms. Richards says she wants to pursue a PhD and work in government or research.

“I would like to be somewhere where I can influence change.”

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