The University of Newcastle, Australia

Sales assistant to Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Leanne Glass was working as a casual at a large department store when a colleague suggested she had the potential to be more than a shop assistant, and that she should look into the University of Newcastle's Open Foundation tertiary preparation program.

Leanne (pictured) was flattered, and more importantly, it got her thinking.

"As I was new to the area, knew no one and with a husband who was away a lot with his job, I decided to at least check it out," says the bookworm from Victoria who had not finished high school.

"I went with my sister-in-law to an information seminar and decided I had nothing to lose."

Before starting her Open Foundation program, Leanne deliberated over her choice of courses.

"I knew I wasn't interested in business studies and I was never a science or maths student, which meant I needed to look at the humanities. I chose English literature and film straight away but my second choice was an issue," she says.

"Finally, I decided on classical studies with no real idea exactly what it was.  I just remember the blurb and its offer to go back over essay writing, which I felt I really needed."

It was a life changer.

"It was in classical studies that my passion really began for study and the ancient world," she enthuses.

"The teacher for my very first class was Professor Marguerite Johnson, whose genuine love for the subject matter inspired and encouraged me to embrace ancient Greece and Rome.  She is my main supervisor for my thesis and I feel honoured.  If it was not for Marguerite, I'm not sure I would still be here.

"I would also like to acknowledge Dr Caroline Webb, who was my supervisor for my Honours. I think she's wonderful."

Leanne measures the benefits of tertiary study in terms of personal growth.

"All my life I've had people tell me I can't do this or that and now I've proved them all wrong. It's definitely boosted my confidence and belief in myself," she says with conviction.

Now in the final stages of her PhD – her thesis, titled 'National Identity, the Auteur and the Greek World on Film', covering a small selection of films based in ancient Greece – Leanne plans to "take on some lecturing and tutoring and, hopefully, get my thesis out there as a book".Leanne's advice to those thinking about taking on tertiary studies is simple and heartfelt: "Believe in yourself."

Find out more about ancient history and classical languages major of the Bachelor of Arts degree.