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Alumnus shows that it's never too late to study

Dr John Matlin .

At an Open Day, I met some superb minds who encouraged me to come to Brunel. I felt comfortable, even though I would be more than 40 years older than most new students

Dr John Matlin, Alumni, Postgraduate, Undergraduate

Patron, Teenage Cancer Trust / Solicitor, Retired

BA American Studies / MA American Politics - 2004 / 2005

From UK

Tell us about your career journey since you graduated…

I came to Brunel as a mature student. I qualified as a Solicitor in 1967 and moved to a city practice in 1972, where I became a Partner. In 1985, I decided that I wanted to run my own business, so formed my own Practice with two others. That same year, I went to my first meeting with The Sportsman’s Aid Society - later to become the Teenage Cancer Trust - which is where my involvement with the charity began.

Having retired from my Law Practice in 2000 and spent some time travelling the world, I made a return to education. I was awarded a Masters of Research degree at Brunel and three years later a PhD from the University of Birmingham. I continued my charity work at the Teenage Cancer Trust until two years ago and now write a weekly blog on American Politics and try to get children’s stories and novels published… so no formal career, but a happy retirement.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

So many. In law, saving the careers of a number of deserving men and women. In charity, helping to start a charity for teenagers and see it become a world leader. In academia, being awarded my PhD and asking Lord Cadbury for a donation to the charity in front of 500 people! That was fun.

How would you say Brunel helped you to get where you are today?

By being open minded and allowing a mature (or is it overripe) 58 year old to have a University education. The best 10 years of my life were spent in the University system and I miss these times very much. I found Brunel to foster a tolerant, liberal, welcoming society. It suited me well.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

At an Open Day, I met some superb minds who encouraged me to come to Brunel. I felt comfortable, even though I would be more than 40 years older than most new students. It was also only a 20/25 minute drive, so the location was perfect.

What is your best memory of studying here?

There are so many. The lecturers in American Studies were so knowledgeable. Three in particular welcomed me as one who also knew a bit about the subject and pushed me to get the best out of me. I am still in touch with them. I also made quite a few new young friends, some of whom I still see.

If you could give one piece of advice to new students, what would that be?

Can’t limit to one, but talk to the Librarians, ask for a tour and make friends with them. They can be so helpful with research. The other - talk to the staff in your subject department - they can guide you in many ways.

What would be your top tip or advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey?

Study what you're interested and passionate about, not just a subject that leads to a career or job. I know someone who studied Law and became a producer on children’s TV. This applies to people of any age. It’s never too late to study.