Publication Details

O'Shea, S. & Stone, C. (2014). The hero's journey: stories of women returning to education. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 5 (1), 79-91.


This paper draws upon the metaphor of the "hero's journey" to further analyse seven stories of women returning to education. These stories have formed the basis of a recent book publication by the authors (Stone & O'Shea, 2012) and are derived from two complementary but separate research studies (O'Shea, 2007; Stone, 2008). None of the women featured in this article have a parent who went to university and all have a number of competing demands in their lives including families, partners and employment. This paper aims to both frame the richly descriptive nature of these stories within a heroic metaphor and also to indicate how these stories, whilst unique, share common thematic elements and turning points. The paper foregrounds these commonalities capturing a universal narrative and also explores how this mythical framework could be used by both educators and students to conceptualise movements within this environment.