Cheryl Cummins sits alongside her fellow graduands as she waits to collect her Masters degree certificate.
Single mum Cheryl Cummins looks forward to collecting her Masters degree. © Stuart Rayner

Inspiring single mum Cheryl Cummins has completed a Masters degree in education at Edge Hill University while battling cancer.

The 53-year-old from Bolton said she was thrilled to have passed the MA Education course with a Merit overall and a Distinction in her dissertation, and thanked her tutor Dr Christine Lewis for all her support.

“I’m really thrilled I completed the degree because I really did try my hardest,” she said. “And my dissertation was a hard slog so I’m delighted to have received a distinction for it.”

Cheryl began studying for her Masters as her career with Greater Manchester Police drew to a natural close; she served with the force for 30 years, retiring as a police inspector.

She was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2018 and underwent major operations in September the same year and the following March, while still mourning the death of her mother Rose, who passed away as she was starting her studies.

“It’s been a real battle, a really tough time,” she explained, “and it’s really shaken us all up, especially my daughter.

“But I’m overjoyed that my consultant has confirmed the cancer has not spread anywhere else and I’m not on any long-term treatment.”

Cheryl’s daughter Jasmine joined her mum at the graduation ceremony with her friend Louise and Cheryl’s partner Jason.

Cheryl, who is now looking for work in education and training, said she hoped her achievement would inspire the 19-year-old to aim high as she decides where and what to study at university.

“I’m glad I made the tough decision to carry on with my dissertation and I’m so grateful to my tutor Chris because she’s been a real support; that meant a lot.

“I was open with her about what I was going through and she’s been so encouraging throughout; I really appreciate that.”

Dr Lewis, Senior Lecturer in Professional Learning, said it had been a pleasure to tutor Cheryl and to see her achieve her goal.

“With great commitment, Cheryl has resolutely and diligently applied herself to her Masters studies throughout a time of significant illness, and at times when she has been in severe pain and discomfort.

“Her highly disciplined approach has been truly inspirational and I wish her well for the future.”

Edge Hill University offers a variety of postgraduate courses and Masters degrees in subject areas including Education, Social Work and Medicine.