The professor from Newcastle University, Penny Jane Bruke, who has been instrumental in the improvement of access to higher education for marginalized and underprivileged communities has been appointed as a USESCO chair.
Professor Penny said, “I had no access to higher education as a young woman and found myself in a very vulnerable situation with my baby son. I myself am a survivor of domestic violence and had recently fled a very severe domestic violence situation when I discovered access to higher education pathway program, which completely changed my life.”
She met several diverse people who had accessed higher education struggling against various odds, including the domestic violence survivors who left a lasting impression on her.
Professor Penny grew up in California but later moved to England with her son. She holds a PhD, and Master of Education from the University of London, degrees of Bachelor of Education from the College of Northeast London, and Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from Middlesex University respectively.
She further added that “So it became kind of my life’s work to contribute to this project of building equity and widening participation in higher education.”
Awarded a full-time Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Ph.D. studentship from 1998-2001 to study student equity, Prof. Burke’s sole-authored book Accessing Education effectively widening participation that was published in 2002 by Trentham Books. Going ahead, Professor Burke generated $3,500,000 in research funding and published extensively in the field of social justice and equality in education.