Against the odds, Rachel Hughes has graduated from Edge Hill University today with a First Class Honours degree.

At the age of 17, Child Health and Wellbeing graduate Rachel, from North Wales, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour situated on her pituitary gland. She had to take a variety of medication to control her hormones and hopefully shrink the tumour as it was sitting very close to the optic nerve.

“It was a very stressful time as I was right in the middle of completing my A levels,” said Rachel. “Shortly after the diagnosis, the medication seemed to be working and I was finally feeling somewhat normal. However, things became much worse at the start of 2013. I was experiencing a number of side effects from my medication, including dizziness, headaches, nausea, insomnia and loss of appetite, resulting in losing two stone in six months. I found out the tumour had grown back to its original size and had to try two other medications, both of which gave me the same side effects. I was told to stop taking the tablets and that undergoing brain surgery was the last option.”

Unfortunately due to her illness, Rachel didn’t achieve the results she needed to go to university and was forced to stay on an extra year. Undeterred, Rachel repeated the year, and halfway through, in January 2014, had brain surgery which had a seven week recovery period. She worked harder than ever after the surgery and managed to get the grades she needed to start at Edge Hill in September 2014.

“When I started at Edge Hill, I was put in touch with the counselling service and it was a relief to know this was available when I needed it. My personal tutor was so supportive throughout the three years, and even though I didn’t need to ask for extensions or resubmit any assignments, I was confident that there was always someone to talk to. The friends I made both on my course and in halls were wonderful and they kept me going if I was having an ‘off’ day.

“Due to my illness and surgery I lost a lot of confidence, but thanks to my time at Edge Hill, my confidence grew enough to go to America in the summer of 2016 to work as a camp counsellor. While I was there I travelled to Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia and New York City. Edge Hill has helped me to finally enjoy life and study to the level that I know I am capable of doing. I really enjoyed my course and it not only gave me great confidence, but it was informative and enabled me to develop many skills.

“While I still have many symptoms that I have to cope with on a day to day basis, I will always remember and cherish my time at Edge Hill as a wonderful part of my life, and I am delighted to discover that I have been awarded a first class honours degree. This is something I never thought was possible five years ago.”

Following graduation, Rachel plans to take some time out and travel to a number of countries. She then hopes to secure employment in the childcare sector, before returning to Edge Hill to complete a Master’s Degree.

Click here for more information about studying for a BSc (Hons) Child Health and Wellbeing.