61-year-old goes to university to fulfil longtime dream to become fashion designer

Susan Campbell. (Photo: Facebook/Susan Campbell Designs)
Susan Campbell. (Photo: Facebook/Susan Campbell Designs)

You’re never too old to learn something new!

Susan Campbell, from Leicester in England, has always had a passion for designing clothing. In her 20s, the 65-year-old would design her own clothes for parties she attended, The Mirror reports.

But things didn’t go the way she hoped.

After getting married and starting a family, Susan put her dream of becoming a fashion designer on hold and worked numerous jobs, from being a waitress to being a cook at an old age home, to support her family.

Although she worked a nine-to-five job, Susan continued to design adorable outfits for her two children Laura and Tom, who are now in their 30s.

"It was easy as they were so small and it didn’t take much fabric," she says. "But it just didn’t occur to me that I could do this for a job.

“When government cuts meant the charity had to reduce my days, I thought I’d use the opportunity to take up an A-level on my extra day off, and of course I chose textiles.

“I remember thinking, 'At last, I know what I want to do with myself, and I want to be creative’.”

After completing her first year at the University of Northampton, the college decided to drop textiles as a subject in the curriculum, Northhampton Chronicle reports.

"I was so upset as I was enjoying it so much – I thought, 'I’ve got to find a way to carry this on’.”

Susan then had to make an important decision, whether to quit her job and study fashion or continue working and let go of her dream to become a fashion designer.

"It was a really tough decision because I've always worked but I really didn’t want to stop designing either," the mother of two explains.

At the age of 61, she decided to quit her job and pursue the career she always dreamt of. In order to make her dream a reality, Susan took out a loan to pay for her studies.

“I loved learning all the different techniques like quilting, batik, pattern making.

“I felt I was in my element, and getting my hands dirty with bleach and dyes, I’d never felt happier,” she said.

After finishing her national diploma, the mom-of-two went on to study for her degree at the same university.

"It was decades since I'd last been in full-time education, and I was worried what the students, all in their 20s would think of me.

“But I couldn’t have had a nicer group and no one ever made me feel like I was different," she said.

Susan excelled at university and was chosen to showcase her work at the Graduate Fashion Week recently.

"Just a few years ago I’d never have dreamt that I would get the opportunity to design and make my own collection and then see models wearing it on the catwalk.

"It was an incredible experience and I loved every minute of the show. It’s given me a taste of what I want to do next, and that’s to work in the fashion industry."

Susan is set to graduate this summer and is ready to pursue her dream career.

"One step at a time, the journey of a 1 000 miles starts with one step,” she said.

“Do what you can with what you’ve got and don’t let age be a barrier. I’m so glad I did the course – it’s given me a new lease on life and shows you really can do anything."

In 2015, Doreetha Daniels (99) became the oldest graduate at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California, with an associate degree in social sciences, US Today reports.

"Doreetha is a living testament to the saying 'if there is a will, there is a way,” College of the Canyons counselling faculty member Liz Shaker said in a press release.

"Her desire to get out of bed each day and come to school and face the challenges in and outside of the classroom inspired us all.

“She is truly an amazing woman who has impacted my life and I feel so fortunate that I was able to experience her journey alongside her."

In 2017, 63-year-old Musawenkosi Mpungose fulfilled his dream and graduated with a national professional diploma in education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

Sources: The Mirror, US Today, News24

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