After overcoming a testing set of personal hurdles, Tom Dickson (59) is to graduate at 2.30pm on Thursday 3 December. He will be awarded a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International IT Law from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.
Tom is originally from Falkirk but now lives near Banbury in Oxfordshire. He currently works as an e-messaging consultant for Fujitsu UK Ltd and decided to embark on the LLM course on a distance learning basis, despite having no previous experience of higher education or law as a subject of study. Being asked by a user at work if they could have access to another person's mail file inspired him to gain the legal expertise which he sought. He was impressed by course offerings at Robert Gordon University and decided he wanted to prove to himself that he was of graduate calibre.
When he started his course, Tom was living in rented accommodation but decided to purchase a small ‘fixer upper' in the town where his daughter attends school. As if his schedule wasn't busy enough, Tom then had to make his new house habitable, and slowly make improvements as he continued with his studies. He and Claire moved in on Christmas Eve 2007.
In addition to holding down a full-time job and renovating his house, he has had to balance his studies with looking after his daughter during alternate weeks, a long commute to his place of work, teaching self defence classes, and continuing to play cricket and practice Tae Kwon Do.
Tom said, "The support of my employer has been important and my course leader Thorsten Lauterbach helped me enormously.
"There is a danger that you can become de-motivated and lose focus when you set out on a new course of study, but you must look past this to your goal. The absolute key strength for me was the fantastic support I received from those closest to me. Without that.... well, thankfully, I don't need to answer that question!"
Tom now plans to use his qualification to move into data protection training and consultancy work, an area which he feels is greatly underrepresented in the IT industry.