An Edge Hill university student who found herself in a one-in-a-million situation with multiple health problems has overcome all obstacles to graduate with a First Class Honours degree.

Sarah Bradshaw, had contracted sepsis from a bout of tonsillitis, suffered a series of major strokes and doctors thought she may never fully recover.  But they couldn’t have been more wrong, she overcame her health issues and less than two months and two years later is graduating from Edge Hill University with a First in her Psychology and Criminology degree.

Sarah, now 23 and originally from Newcastle, first fell ill in March 2019 when she was in her 2nd year of university. At first, she was diagnosed with tonsillitis, but it was soon discovered that she was allergic to penicillin and the anti-biotics needed to treat the infection.

Despite the best efforts of doctors, Sarah contracted sepsis causing her body to slowly shut down. She was rushed to hospital but within three days she was put on life support and suffered several significant strokes.

The infection, strokes and other health complications severely affected Sarah’s movement on her left side, short-term memory, writing and speech.

Sarah Bradshaw lying in a hospital bed.

Sarah said: “It was a really scary time for everyone, I still can’t remember much from my time in hospital but I’ve been told the doctors didn’t expect me to recover because most hadn’t seen anyone in a situation like mine before, they kept saying it was one-in-a-million.”

Sarah was utterly determined to return to university. It was this determination that led to a recovery that shocked her medical team and after a short period of rehabilitation, Sarah returned to Edge Hill to complete her degree overcoming all the difficulties she faced.

Sarah said: “Amazingly, it only took me 54 days to get home. I had two advantages, I was young, and I was absolutely determined to go back to university. After a lot of hard work, rehab and recovery I had regained enough movement and speech to be able to return to campus.

“When I came back I had so much support, Edge Hill offered me counselling to deal with the emotional fallout of my experiences and my lecturers gave me plenty of extra support to settle me back in. It was really amazing.

“After all I’ve been through, I’ve learnt to live life to its fullest and put your all into everything too. That’s my message to any future students out there – give it your all.”

Sarah Bradshaw at home celebrating her graduation.

Sarah came to Edge Hill University after following in the footsteps of her mum and grandmother, both of whom studied there.

Sarah said: “When I came to look round I was really impressed by the incredible facilities on offer and the lovely campus. I’m really glad I did choose to come to Edge Hill because all the staff have been incredible throughout my time here. Whether it’s my studies or my health difficulties my lecturers have all been so supportive and helpful, it made dealing with everything so much easier.”

Sarah is returning to Edge Hill to study for a Master’s degree in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and welling and has plans to find a career that will allow her to help people.

Edge Hill offers a variety of Criminology and Offending programmes that allow you to specialise in the areas you are most interested in. Students will be immersed in the philosophy, politics and representations of criminalisation, victimisation, criminal justice and punishment, while exploring the relationship between power, crime and social change.