A student with a genetic condition which makes it harder for her to process information and feel socially anxious collected her degree in Psychology today at Edge Hill University.

Emma Clarke (21) from Warrington has Turner Syndrome, which is a condition that affects about 1 in 2,000 girls, and means she is shorter than average and had delayed physical development. As a child she refused to do new things, and speak to new people.

“Coming to university and living away from home was a huge step for me,” said Emma. “Initially, when viewing universities I was set on living at home and commuting. However, after attending an open day at Edge Hill, which appeared to have a brilliant friendly atmosphere and felt very safe with everything being on one campus, I decided it was the university for me.”

Emma initially felt anxious about starting her course.

“I was very worried at first about both the personal and friendship aspect and also the academic side of university,” she said. “Edge Hill helped me because I was assigned to a learning facilitator who I met with for an hour once a week, and the meeting could be used for whatever I needed that week – just a vent or general chat or to help go over any assignments. This really helped as with my condition I can be very anxious and like to have reassurance that I am on the right track.”

Edge Hill also eased Emma’s worries about making new friends as she was able to make contact with her new flat mates before moving in to halls.

“The movie nights and treasure hunt provided in the Freshers’ Week activities were a great help as I was worried I would have to drink or go to clubbing-based activities which I do not feel comfortable with,” said Emma. “This option allowed me to do what I feel happier with but still develop and build friendships which was very important to me.”

During her studies, Emma had the opportunity to become an intern to assist Reader in Psychology Dr Motonori Yamaguchi, with his research, which has helped her secure a place to study a Masters in Psychological Wellbeing in Clinical Practice.  She said:

“I was able to gain both personal confidence, having to approach people in the Hub to recruit participants, and academic skills by conducting a study and analysing data, which are very important for the career I hope to achieve.”

She also has some advice for current students.

“Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and give new things a try – make the most of every opportunity offered by the university. For example, even though I never thought I would get the internship I still applied as it sounded like great experience. And amazingly I got it and it has been one of my best decisions and experiences whilst at uni.”

Find out more about studying Psychology at Edge Hill University here