Students studying at the JMS

The Impact of Scholarships 

Maureen McGuire

Maureen McGuire (MA 1974) has firsthand experience of the transformational impact of scholarships. She benefited from financial support when she was a student at UofG and now, decades later following a successful career, she is supporting students so that they too can benefit from a university education. Maureen shares the importance of the financial support she had while studying at UofG and her motivation to ensure that those opportunities are available to others.

The middle child of a family of seven, my circumstances did not feel very different from other people that I knew growing up. We lived in a corporation house on the south side of Glasgow and my sister and I were surrounded
by five brothers – a noisy and happy household, where our mother was most definitely in charge. Sadly, my father died very suddenly when I was 13 and that was traumatic for all of us, especially for my mother who was left to raise all seven of us on her own.

I started working outside the home for the first time, and at one point I had three jobs. I had done well at primary school and was sent to an all-girls Catholic school where I was assured of a good education. My school was pretty academic. Hardly any sports for us. Some netball in the school yard – and there was no question of what you would do when you were finished with Highers or Sixth Form Studies. It was college or university. No one spoke of anything else really. However, at home this was not the expectation. No one had ever gone to university before. I would be the first of any generation to earn a degree. Through my school, I applied for and received a University of Glasgow bursary to help me pay for books and travel. I lived at home – and took the bus and the subway to Gilmorehill every day.

I studied English, French and Spanish and spent a year abroad in Paris, where I not only became quite a fluent French speaker but also learned to become much more independent, as this was the first time I had lived away from home. There is no doubt in my mind that my life would have been very different had I not been given the joint opportunity of education and life experience.

On every holiday and every Saturday, I had so many jobs: shop assistant; car cleaning; babysitting; cigarette factory; tea shop manageress; secretary ... the list is endless, but all these work experiences also gave me a multifaceted view on life. I did not think my life was hard, it’s just the way it was. In fact, as I look back, I was quite happy and fulfilled.

After university, and undoubtedly influenced by my French experience, I returned to Paris in 1975 to look for a job. It was only a few days before I found myself interviewing at the European Headquarters of IBM, where I was immediately hired as a secretary. I did not know it at the time, but that was the beginning of a 30-year career in marketing at IBM. IBM was one of the best companies to work for at that time. Technology was just really taking off and it was a very exciting era with the introduction of the personal computer (yes, when I started work everything was done by snail mail and typewriters) and later on the wonder of the internet.

IBM gave me so many opportunities. I worked in Paris, in the UK and in the US, ending up my 30-year career in New York where I made my home for 20 years. I worked hard and had many bosses who were wise mentors and who helped me shape a career I would never have dreamt of when I first left school for university. After 30 years in IBM, I became Chief Marketing Officer at Sears Holdings in Chicago and then went on to lead Marketing at Bloomberg in New York. I can honestly say that I have met some of the most wonderful people of every nationality during my career, many of whom I still count as friends.

I would never have achieved all that I did had it not been for the opportunities afforded by the education I was fortunate enough to enjoy and the experiences that helped shape my leadership skills.

Now settled back in the UK, and consulting from time to time, I continue to do what I can to support young people who, perhaps like me, will go on to achieve their full potential through the benefit of a good education."

Maureen supports 20 students at UofG. A few share what her support means to them.

Marie-Claire is working towards an MSc in Food Security

I would not have been able to take up my place at Glasgow without this scholarship. I am able to focus on my studies without worrying about financial pressures. It has allowed me to continue working with community agriculture projects in Glasgow without having to cut back on commitments. This has been invaluable for my studies in Food Security and provided a direction for future study.

Ramyar is working towards an MSc in Computing Science

The scholarship has made a tremendous difference in my life. As a refugee migrant financial resources are often limited, and the scholarship has allowed me to pursue my dreams of obtaining a higher education without worrying about financial burdens. With the scholarship, I have been able to attend conferences and networking events that have helped me connect with professionals in my field and explore different areas of study.

Michaela is working towards an MSc in Development Studies

Without a scholarship this year I would not have been able to undergo my masters in a subject I am passionate about. Funding for care- experienced students is only available at undergraduate level and therefore, if we want to pursue a masters, we have to fund this ourselves. Maureen's scholarship made this entirely possible and will not only aid me further in life but allowed me to study a topic I love.

Elizabeth is working towards an MSc in Sustainable Water Environments

The scholarship made such a difference for me. Without it, I would have been in serious financial hardship by now, to the point I may not have been able to continue with my studies.