101-Year-Old Woman Finally Gets University Degree

by : UNILAD on : 08 Mar 2018 20:02
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A 101-year-old woman finally received her university certificate after she completed her degree with first-class honours in 1938.


Catherine Palmer, from Bolton, attended Victoria University of Manchester in 1935 to study English but never received her certificates.

Catherine then went on wartime placements at St Thomas’s and St Mary’s hospitals in London, until after WW2 when she began using her degree to teach English at the NW Polytechnic (now the University of North London).

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Catherine took pride in her students, many from different parts of the world, who she would often invite to live in her family home while studying. This was something that was apparently frowned upon by her neighbours at the time.


Catherine’s daughter Alison said:

We had a great birthday with Mum, and she was delighted to finally get her certificate, which has now taken pride of place next to her card from the queen.

I had so often heard her talk about her days at university as special and very happy times, and then she’d mention the lack of evidence of her achievements there.

It felt important to try to give her the acknowledgment of those days, and contacting staff at Manchester has enabled a sense of completion and celebration to finally happen!

undefinedUniversity of Manchester/PA

Catherine was particularly proud of one her international students who lived with her because he went on to be the president of the University of Bristol before becoming a government minister in St Lucia.

During her time at the University of Manchester, Catherine stayed at Ashburne Hall Fallowfield, and was very active in the choir, fencing, athletics, and climbing in the Lake District.

Professor Peter Knight, Head of English, American Studies & Creative Writing said:

I am delighted that Catherine has finally received her degree certificate.

In this centenary year for women’s suffrage, it is important to celebrate the achievements of our alumni, and Catherine’s life and work are an inspiration to our current students.


Catherine had a long and acomplished teaching career as well as three children who have grown up to have five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Her activeness hasn’t slowed down and Catherine embarked on a trekking and white water rafting adventure in the Himalayas at the age of 75.

At the ripe old age of 101, she still walks her dog every day and is able to live an independent life.

Topics: Life


University of Manchester
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