“You can be educated and not lose your roots” - says graduate Leeanne Morgan

23 July 2018
Leeanne Morgan and classmate

Travellers’ Times caught up with Romany Gypsy Leeanne Morgan to find out more about her journey to academic success.

Leeanne Morgan (42), a Romany Gypsy from, Pembrokeshire, South Wales, is smashing stereotypes by graduating from university with a foundation degree in education.

The mother of two, like many other Gypsy and Travellers, experienced low teacher expectations in school.

“School for me wasn’t the best time when people say, it should be the best time of your life, well when you’re a Gypsy it isn’t great. In primary school I was given pictures of horses and wagons to colour in I didn’t need to be educated in my own culture I knew that I needed to be educated in the culture of the world.”

So little did she know then that she would return back to education 20 years later and graduate with a foundation degree in social inclusion for teaching assistants, run by the University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD).

“I just wish I could go back and speak to my younger self to say don’t worry! You’re going to be ok!”

Her journey back to education started when her two young children Jack 7 and Liljana 9 started school. Leeanne started doing voluntary work with the Unity project and was involved in Gypsy and Traveller cultural awareness training.

“I did volunteering and took up other opportunities that working at the unity project gave me and I got such great encouragement from my colleagues who said I should go for the foundation degree and I’m so glad I did”

Leeanne with classmates

Leeanne is bucking the trend with her can do attitude and her optimism and enthusiasm is contagious.

“You can be educated and not lose your roots.  I hear people say when your educated you lose where you come from, this is just not true! If anything it gives us more drive and determination to succeed because of the morals that have been instilled in us from our culture”.

Since then Leeanne has provided training to MPs, councillors and health care professionals and is a strong advocate for her community.

However, it hasn’t been easy road to success for Leeanne,

“I found it really hard returning back to education after leaving at 16, I had to re-educate myself in ways of talking, we have the Romani language going on,  the English Language going on, the way we speak to family and the modified version we speak to friends – that’s  on top of the research and referencing and being Romany Gypsy women with a family. My advice to any other Travellers is if you get the opportunity to further your education in any way go for it, learning any new skill that ignites that spark for you to want to learn more”

She added “if I can do it with two children anyone can. My degree shows you don’t have to go down the conventional route of education there are alternative ways of achieving what you want”.

Travellers’ Times asked Leeanne what was next,

“I’m a mature student so I’m going to have a mature gap year! After that I might top up my foundation degree to a Bachelors of Arts. I will do what’s right for my children and right now they are at the age where they need their Mum. “

Travellers’ Times wants to say a huge congratulation to Leeanne on her graduation, enjoy a well-deserved break!