A former hairdresser from Fazakerley has become the first Edge Hill student to gain top honours in a prestigious new course at the University.

Mum-of-one Kerry Martin has gained a first class honours degree in Women’s Health and is one of the first graduates of the unique degree course to come out with the coveted mark.

“I am delighted at how well I’ve done. I’d tried courses in midwifery and in dental therapy but they didn’t really suit me because of the irregular hours. I knew I had an aptitude for health-related subjects, so when I discovered the Women’s Health degree at Edge Hill it really appealed to me, especially because of my life experiences as a single mum.

“I enrolled at Edge Hill to get a higher standard of living for myself and my daughter, who was my motivation for all of this. I’m really glad that she’s seen me go to university and it’s a regular conversation in our house now, so hopefully I’ve been a positive role model and she’ll go when she’s older too.  

“Women’s Health suited me down to the ground. I loved learning about the role of women. It was really interesting to me how societal issues impacts women’s behaviours and how they perceive themselves, which in turn, affects their health. The course tutors were so passionate about the subject – they really inspired us to stand up for women and help improve conditions for them for them in the future.”

However, the road to first class honours wasn’t smooth for Kerry. As well as juggling life as a single mother and struggling for money, Kerry discovered she had Dyslexia during her studies.

“In some courses I’d enrolled on before Edge Hill, I was being told I had remedial level English, which really knocked my confidence and made returning to education really scary for me. I wasn’t used to failing at anything – even as a hairdresser I was placed in the top 100 in the country as a result of my NVQ marks, so being told I wasn’t any good was very hard to deal with.

“In my classes at Edge Hill, I’d contribute really well in discussions but this didn’t match my written work and my tutors picked up on this. I was referred to the Edge Ahead centre, a learning support department at the University. I was assigned a personal tutor who helped me with writing, phrasing and structuring essays. They were brilliant and made a huge difference to my confidence.”

Despite her manic schedule, Kerry found time to volunteer in the Victim Support centre in Huyton, Liverpool.  “I enjoyed the placement although it was harrowing at times – speaking with people who had been in abusive relationships was an eye opener. Nevertheless, I received really positive feedback and I could see on people’s faces just how much I’d helped them by listening. It was very rewarding.”

Kerry now plans to do a postgraduate qualification in either social work in voluntary sector management. Programme Leader of Women’s Health Catherine McEvilly, said: “Kerry’s a fantastic ambassador for the degree. She was one of the most motivated students, organising her placements and field trips for staff and students. 

“If anyone has an interest in making a significant difference to women’s lives, the course provides a chance to focus on the issues that affect them – like domestic abuse, breastfeeding and sexual health. There are variety of career routes that can be followed and, like it has for Kerry, can open so many doors of opportunity.”

For more information on Women’s Health, email Catherine McEvilly on mcevillc@edgehill.ac.uk.