Students from all countries, races and religions are a common sight on the University of Essex campus. But even here it’s highly unusual to see a man of 76 taking his place with the other freshers at the start of the term. However Mick Ekers is a very unusual man, who has decided that is never too late to pursue a passion.
For over 30 years Mick Ekers was IT and finance consultant in banks but now that he has retired, he decided to enrol into university and indulge into his real passion – politics and history.
When asked how did his family react once he shared the idea of starting the University, Mick Ekers laughed. “They were very supportive and surprised. Now my youngest son is currently a student in the University College London an every evening we compare notes.”
Mr. Ekers begun a course in Modern History and Politics this year at the University of Essex. Ever since he was a high school student his passion was history and choosing to study this field was a decision made nearly half of the century ago when Mr. Ekers was still in school.
He told that many different subjects were taught in school like maths, physics but he did not really enjoy any of these. The only subject he really admired was history and later it was taken out of his timetable “I felt mad when history curriculum was taken away and I knew that someday I will study it again.” He had to wait more than 40 years before that ‘some day’arrived.
Mick Ekers was always keen on politics and says: “I am not looking for a new job. I would like to write history and politics related articles, but I need to improve my writing techniques.” This is what he hopes to accomplish in the university.
He says that the studies are really interesting, even though it is quite a challenge, because he has to adapt to completely different system than was appropriate in his job. “In my job I used to get a deadline in 3 hours to make 6 slides about something. Now my deadlines are in 7 weeks to write 2,000 word essays. That is a real challenge.”
Essays are especially hard, he admitted, even though writing is a thing that Mick Ekers really enjoys. He has written a book about American rock star compositor Frank Zappa, which will be published in 2019. “I’ve been writing this book for four years. Never write a book about a dead famous person. It takes a long time to get the approval,” he laughed.
The book, however, was written in non-academic style and Mick Ekers claims that now he has to learn writing techniques that are a world away from his life in it.
Mick Ekers shared an interesting story when asked why did he choose studies in Essex and how he was accepted. He applied to 3 universities and got a really great offer from University College London which he thought to take.
But he had a plan to come to the University of Essex during an Open Door Day. “Once I came to Essex I felt like home. During the day a met a few members of staff and had a fascinating conversation about Russian politics with a lecturer of the department of history Felix Schnell and nearly missed my in interview.”
The interview was fascinating as well and left no doubt that the University of Essex is where Mick Ekers has to go.
The application process comprised mostly of the interview, motivation letter and a reference letter, which was written by Mr Ekers boss, but he still had to provide old school leaving certificate, which was “dusty and really hard to find after so many years.”
Even though, Essex is an hour drive from Leigh-on-sea, where Mr. Ekers lives, that was not an obstacle to such an extraordinary person. He thought that spending his retirement at home is a waste of time and he still wants to improve and learn something new.
After finishing Bachelors degree, Mick Ekers has a plan to do Masters. However he has a lot of non-academic plans as well: Russian literature has always admired him and this inspired Mr Ekers to learn Russian. “I want to read Dostoyevsky in the original language, but it will probably take some time to master it.”
Mick Ekers is an extraordinary person and even though he is more mature than most of the students in Essex, he definitely has as many plans and is just as motivated as the rest of us.