They say every day is a school day and this is especially true for 72-year-old Edinburgh College student Ada Pagan, who has racked up 78 qualifications across a broad range of subjects. And now Ada’s dedication to lifelong learning has led to a nomination for a Scottish Qualifications Authority Star Award.
Ada, who is currently studying Advance Criminology through open learning, has six A levels, 17 Highers, 11 O grades, 9 O levels, more than 20 credits in business subjects, four certificates in public speaking, four certificates in counselling and therapy, a HNC in Business Administration and a HNC in Languages and Tourism. She earned 55 of her qualifications at Edinburgh College and its legacy colleges in 40 years of study here.
Ada has been nominated for the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) Star Awards for the Lifelong Learning category. The annual awards celebrate success and commitment from individuals, schools, colleges, training providers and businesses.
Talking about her lifelong learning at Edinburgh College, Ada said: “I had a bad experience at school and left aged 14 without any qualifications. I didn’t want the punishment my fellow classmates had experienced when they had asked questions in class. Fourteen years later I started working as a social worker and my employer encouraged me to pick up some part-time qualifications – my first was an O grade in English and O level in sociology in 1977.
“Being in the encouraging atmosphere of a modern college really pushed me to study more and more and, as well as pushing myself academically across a broad range of subjects, I have also made friends among the staff and students at the college.”
Ada’s current study is through open learning although she uses Edinburgh College’s Sighthill Campus as her study base. Edinburgh College has a high number of students for whom English is a second language, and Ada has become the go-to person for them and other younger students looking for help and advice on living in Edinburgh and on their studies. Ada is also a source of wisdom and inspiration for older students returning to study after being out of education, and is able to give them the benefit of her years of experience to allay any fears and support them as they get back into the classroom, often with younger students.
Ada continued: “I thoroughly enjoy studying. It gets me moving. Many people over 70 say they can find the day drags but that’s never the case for me. I get up and get myself organised and get cracking with the studies. It’s an interest and a challenge for me. I get to meet new people and learn new things. I would always recommend the college for studying because the staff are really friendly and there’s a lovely supportive atmosphere there.”
Ada will attend the Star Awards Ceremony at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, on Friday 11 November.