UNE fosters Kathleen’s passion for history

Published 29 April 2010

kathleenfeain2Eighty-three-year-old Kathleen Feain, who graduated from the University of New England with a Master of History degree earlier this month, is now studying for her third UNE degree.

Mrs Feain’s graduation was particularly significant for the School of Humanities at UNE, as she is the first person to have been presented with the School’s recently-introduced Master of History degree at a UNE graduation ceremony.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from UNE, Mrs Feain (pictured here) enrolled in a Master of Arts program two years ago, but after discussions with her supervisor, Associate Professor Jennifer Clark, decided to switch to the new Master of History program after its introduction last year. Mrs Feain is now conducting research towards a Master of Arts with Honours degree.

Her special field of interest is American history, and her current research concerns the early history of the South Bay area (now known as Silicon Valley) south-east of San Francisco – going back to the time of the Ohlone Indians.

She will spend the first three weeks of May with her son Peter, who lives with his family at Santa Clara in Silicon Valley – a convenient base for research at Stanford, Santa Clara, and San Jose State Universities, as well as some major public libraries. “They’ve all been very good to me,” said Mrs Feain, who combines family and research interests when she visits California each year.

Mrs Feain lives with her husband Joseph in Pascoe Vale, Victoria. A piano teacher for more than 40 years before retiring two years ago in order to have more time for history, she has a keen interest in music history. “I’ve really never stopped studying,” she said.

She enrolled at UNE because of the availability of degree programs through distance education. “It’s been fascinating,” she said, adding that Dr Clark had been “a wonderful mentor”.

Her husband and one of her six children – Anne – accompanied her to the recent graduation ceremony on the lawns of “Booloominbah”, the magnificent nineteenth-century country residence at the heart of the University. “My family thinks the ceremonies at UNE are marvellous,” she said, “because all of their own graduation ceremonies have been indoors.”

UNE’s new Master of History degree program, which has 79 students currently enrolled, provides an opportunity for graduates to extend their skills in historical research and writing. It gives students the options of studying across a range of themes and periods, or concentrating on specific areas of interest, while developing a strong understanding of professional historical practice.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Kathleen Feain displayed here was taken at her graduation on the 9th of April 2010.