Students from our 2020 and 2021 cohorts received their much deserved undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in-person at graduation ceremonies that took place from Monday 19 to Friday 30 July 2021 on campus.

Ceremonies began on Monday 19 July, on what marked the first day that lockdown restrictions were eased. We are proud to be in the minority of universities that offered this experience to our graduates at a time when we are all joining together to take our first cautious steps out of the final stage of lockdown measures.

If you’ve recently graduated with us, we’d like to welcome you to our valued alumni community and remind you to make sure you keep in touch with the University by joining Edge Hill University Connect, our official networking and personal development platform for Edge Hill University alumni. You can also ‘like’ our Edge Hill Alumni Facebook page and enjoy the perfect space to reminisce about your University days. Our dedicated alumni webpages will provide you with more information about our alumni offer and ways you can continue to give back to EHU.

You can read about our incredible graduates and their achievements below in our graduation highlight stories.

Graduate nurse who led ward during pandemic finally celebrates achievement in dad’s memory

Clare Carroll, wearing a cap and gown and a lilac dress, smiles at the camera.
Nurse Clare Carroll has finally celebrated her graduation in memory of her dad.

A nurse graduate who led her ward during the pandemic has finally celebrated her graduation in her dad’s memory. 

Clare Carroll began working as a staff nurse at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals in March 2020 and she embraced the challenges she faced in her new career but the Covid-19 pandemic broke out a short while later. 

The 39-year-old from Preston admitted that working as a qualified nurse during this time was “a very scary reality at the start”. 

“The pandemic came along soon after I started my new job and nursing life changed rapidly,” she said. 

“Visiting had been stopped, patients were very poorly and three months into qualifying I found myself taking charge of the ward due to staff sickness – something I never envisaged ever doing. 

“The pandemic has been a very scary time to qualify but knowing that I have been able to play a very small part in a wider team to help the patients either get better or hold the hands of those at the end of their lives has enabled me to strengthen my nursing qualities.” 

Clare found out her dad John had terminal cancer while she was studying at Edge Hill and she, with support from her husband Martin, became her dad’s main carer. 

“Being able to finally attend my graduation ceremony means so much to me, it was an emotional day. 

“My dad vowed from the day of his diagnosis that he could not pass away because he had his daughter’s graduation to go to. 

“Unfortunately, while I was on placement in second year my dad took his last breath and sadly passed away – fortunately I had been to see him the day before and told him how much I loved him.” 

Clare believes nursing “comes naturally” because, since the age of seven she also cared for her mum Jackie who had epilepsy, until she died when Clare was 13. 

“Nursing was possibly my destiny,” she added. “So when I was offered a place on the nursing programme at Edge Hill I was ecstatic; not only does the university boast a very good reputation but it is set in amazing grounds.” 

Clare thanked Edge Hill for giving her the opportunity to expand her skill set and take on extra responsibilities including being a student rep in her first year and a peer mentor in her second; she also spent time as a student quality ambassador and won the University’s Student Nurse of the Year accolade in adult nursing. 

This dedication has continued into her fledgeling career and, in addition to her regular duties, she is also the Palliative Link nurse for her ward in cardiology; she has been assigned her own set of students to guide and she has signed up for mentorship and intermediate life support programmes. 

“I would like to say a huge thank you to Tracey Barnes my personal tutor for looking after me through the very hard three years of my degree,” she added. “And thank you to Edge Hill University as a whole, I am a very proud graduate.” 

Tracey Barnes, Senior Lecturer in Nurse Education and Clare’s tutor, added: “Clare was one of those students that despite adversity – and she certainly had more than her fair share over the three-year programme – kept striving to work hard and with only a few words of encouragement stepped out of her comfort zone and really embraced all that the university has to offer. 

“It is clear from her story that this determination is paying off. Clare will go on to even bigger and better things during her career and will do very well in whatever role she takes on. 

“It was a pleasure to be part of her success story and I wish her well.” 

Start your journey into nursing with training from one of the leading providers in the North West. Here you can take advantage of top facilities, including our new Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre, home to human patient simulators which can imitate a range of symptoms.

Education graduate hopes his story can teach others a lesson in self-belief

 

An Edge Hill University graduate whose passion for education has taken him around the world is hoping that his journey to success can help to inspire others from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Mohamed Nakhuda, who is soon to be 40, is on a mission to raise career aspirations for people like him who hail from deprived areas and want to improve their life chances through education. 

Mohamed is from Audley Range, in Blackburn, which according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation is home to some of top 10% most deprived areas in England. 

He explained: “I’ve always championed the underdog and I think everyone deserves to have an equal chance in life. We need a level playing field that means no matter your background or where you come from, you can achieve your potential if you’re willing to work for it.” 

Mohamed is passionate about promoting equal opportunities for underrepresented groups in society, including women and members of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community. 

He added: “I come from a culture that is traditionally heavily male-dominated and I’ve never agreed with that outlook. I think women are fantastic in leadership roles and there needs to be even more visibility. Bridging that gap for underrepresented groups to unlock their potential will be key if we want to achieve parity.” 

Mohamed was the first generation in his family to go to university and most recently celebrated graduating from Edge Hill University’s MA Education (Leadership) programme. 

He said: “My parents have always lived by the philosophy that they wanted their children to be educated, because they didn’t have that opportunity in life. I think having access to a good education is so important and cannot be undervalued.” 

Prior to embarking on further study, Mohamed built a successful international teaching career in the Middle East. 

He landed his first role at the Abdul Rahman Kanoo International School in Bahrain before civil unrest in the country forced him to relocate to Saudi Arabia, where he remained for four years. 

Then in 2015, he made the decision to move back to the UK to be nearer to his family. 

Mohamed went on to teach at Newham College in London, before landing the role of a lifetime with West Ham United Football Club, where he was responsible for leading the club’s Apprenticeship Levy initiative. 

He added: “When I worked in London, I worked in classrooms with an incredibly diverse demographic of young people and it really drove home to me how important it is that we are celebrating diversity and providing everyone with the same opportunities in life.” 

Looking ahead to the future, Mohamed plans to further invest in his professional development by embarking on a PhD at Edge Hill, which will focus on bridging the digital skills gap for underrepresented groups. 

Edge Hill University’s Faculty of Education has a well-established national reputation for the delivery of high-quality Initial Teacher Training across the full range of age phases alongside a substantial track record in supporting partner schools and colleges in school improvement initiatives.

Dad achieves his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher

An Edge Hill University graduate who quit his day job to fulfil his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher is one step closer to achieving his dream. 

Dad-of-three Barry Meaden, from Ashton in Makerfield, graduated from Edge Hill’s BA (Hons) Children and Young People’s Learning and Development programme in 2019 and returned to the University’s campus in Ormskirk this week to attend his graduation ceremony in-person. 

Since leaving Edge Hill, Barry, 40, has completed his PGCE to achieve qualified teacher status (QTS) and currently works for supply agencies for primary schools in Wigan and Newton-le-Willows. 

He said: “I always dreamed of going to university and becoming a teacher but I got a job, got married and had three children and the years just passed by. 

“I’d told myself by the time I was 30 I’d look into becoming a teacher, then more time passed and it was only after attending an open day at Edge Hill and seeing the stunning campus and meeting the course tutors that I decided to take the leap. 

“Being the main earner in the house this was a massive change for all my family and I was really nervous about things going wrong and other students thinking I was too old at 37. 

“Luckily it was one of the best decisions I ever made and the course proved ideal for my career goal.” 

Aside from understanding all the theories underpinning teaching and learning, Barry was able to run a beach school for a day and did his dissertation on how children view SATS exams. 

Barry said: “I’d seen how SATS exams had affected by own children so I asked pupils in Year 6 to draw a picture of what the exams would look like if they were a creature. 

“Some children drew horns, creatures with sharp teeth, coloured them red, all the typical negative illustrations you might expect. 

“But one thing that was particularly interesting was the inclusion of numbers on many pictures, suggesting a link to anxiety about maths that I was able to pass on to teachers.” 

Barry added: “I’ve always doubted myself and lacked confidence but thanks to the encouragement of my tutors I’m delighted to have completed my degree and have a place teaching from September. 

“I hope my children will see that they can do anything they want to do at any age and if they want to go to university one day that they can get there too.” 

If you want to train to teach,  Edge Hill offers a range of courses, visit the website for more information. 

Dance graduates who swapped the stage for hospital wards are shortlisted for national award

L-R Ella Heyes and Maria Mortimer

Two Edge Hill University dance graduates who used their theatrical talents to spread cheer around the wards of Aintree University Hospital have been shortlisted for a national award. 

Maria Mortimer and Ella Heyes, both aged 22, would regularly visit the hospital’s wards to lift the spirits of patients with their fun-filled performances of much-loved musical classics. 

The duo’s performances and costumes from musicals including Singin’ in the RainCalamity JaneThe Wizard of Oz and the Sound of Music quickly became a hit with patients and staff at the hospital, before the first national lockdown brought their project to a halt in 2020. 

Ella, who is from Wigan, said: “It was such an eye-opening experience to witness first-hand the impact that dance, movement and music can have on patients.  

“The arts add value to our lives, and we would often receive feedback from the nurses on how our five-minute performance would make a patient’s whole day. Hearing that made it all worthwhile.” 

Maria performing in the hospital

Maria, who is from Coventry, added: “When we initially set out on the project, our aim was to develop creativity, meaning and imagination through dance and performance in the health sector. It was such a joyous experience to be involved in, especially when the patients had their family or friends visiting, because it became a special moment for them to share together.” 

The performances formed part of Ella and Maria’s joint final year university project, Silvering Linings: Glide into Broadway, which was organised in collaboration with Performing Arts in Aintree (PARTIA), the body responsible for all arts activity within the hospital trust. 

Paula O’Malley, Founder and Arts-Coordinator at PARTIA, said: “Maria and Ella truly made a difference to our patients stay and I’d like to thank them for their hard work and commitment. I too shed a tear at their last performance, as it was very emotional to see so many patients join in and to see the joy on their faces.” 

Ella and Maria have now been shortlisted as finalists for Building Better Healthcare’s Best Collaborative Arts Project (Performance) award, which will take place in London in November, in recognition of the positive impact their performances had on patients’ wellbeing. 

Maria said: “It was such a shock when Paula told us that we had been nominated for an award – and to actually be finalists is incredible.” 

The pair both graduated from Edge Hill in 2020 but returned to the University’s campus in Ormskirk this week to celebrate their graduation day in-person.  

Ella has recently completed a PGCE and has since been offered a role as a specialist dance and drama teacher at St Peters Catholic High School in Wigan.  

She said: “I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher and that’s been my dream for as long as I can remember. I knew that Edge Hill offered a great Dance programme and that it’s also recognised for its teacher training, so it seemed the obvious choice for me, and I had a great three years there.” 

Maria is freelancing in Liverpool as a dance teacher in both private and community dance schools while also pursuing performance and creative opportunities. 

She explained: “I fully submersed myself in university life while I was at Edge Hill, I met so many fantastic people and was given performance opportunities that really helped to set me up for the real world. I was very lucky and had an amazing three years.” 

Whatever your dream role – actor, director or producer- you’ll develop your talents here at Edge Hill, exploring anything from capoeira to directing. Studying one of Edge Hill’s Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre programmes, you’ll learn creative thinking, teamwork and problem-solving skills that are valuable in any sector. And with intellectually challenging topics, specialist modules and work experience options, you’ll be ready to grasp the opportunities that await you. 

Fastrack student hopes autism will be celebrated in education

A Liverpool mum who works with young people and adults with autism is on a mission to change society’s attitudes towards the condition, with the help of her training from Edge Hill University.

Mum of three Moira Riley has a 14-year-old son with autism and says that it is something she has always seen as a positive and something to be celebrated. 

After graduating from Edge Hill in 2020 with a BA (Hons) in Childhood and Youth Studies, Moira has since landed a role as a supported living team leader with young people and adults diagnosed with autism, learning disabilities, acquired brain injury (ABI) and various mental health diagnoses. 

She returned to the University’s campus this week to celebrate her graduation day. 

Moira says that her degree has made her more determined to tackle the attitudes and societal barriers that prevent autistic adults accessing and feeling included in their local communities. 

She said: “I’m interested in young people and educational inclusion, including social and community inclusion for autistic children.   

“My son has autism, and this is something I’ve always seen as a positive and something to be celebrated.  

“But through looking at autism critically, I was surprised to how medically based existing research and theory was.   

“Within education, autism is seen as a deficit that often leads to exclusion. But I believe a lot of problems and inequalities stem from misunderstanding, so I’m hoping to continue my studies with a Critical Autism Masters at Edge Hill to challenge this negativity.”  

Moira, 40, who used to work as a teaching assistant, wanted to come back to education after not excelling at school when she was younger.  

After completing the Fastrack course she was able to get a place on her degree and even found herself studying alongside her daughter who is in the second year of her Nursing degree at Edge Hill.  

She said: “The Fastrack course was intense but prepared me well for the degree. Being a mature student it was all a bit daunting but my tutors were really supportive.  

“During lockdown I worked as a carer in a supportive living setting and considered pausing my studies, but I’m so glad I made the decision to carry on.”   

Professor Tom Cockburn, Head of Social Sciences at Edge Hill, said: “Moira is an excellent example of someone who has taken the chance to return to study after raising a family.  

“She’s always worked at least part-time to look after her family and was debating whether to pause her studies at one point but made the decision to continue and look at the result. With planning and determination it’s amazing what people can achieve.”  

Fastrack gives you the skills and confidence to study for a degree at Edge Hill, find out more about the seven-week programme on the website. If you would like to know more about social sciences courses, visit the website

Paramedic student reflects on bumpy road to graduation

Jodie Binns

An Edge Hill University graduate who was forced to put her paramedic training on hold when she discovered that she was pregnant with her first child is celebrating landing her first role with the North West Ambulance Service. 

Jodie Binns, 28, had no choice but to pause her first-year Paramedic Practice studies in May 2018 after receiving the longed-for news that she was 10 weeks pregnant. 

Jodie and her husband Kieran, both from Rochdale, were told by doctors that there would be very little chance of them conceiving naturally after Jodie was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  

However, it wasn’t long into her time at Edge Hill that Jodie discovered the unexpected news that she was pregnant with their son Jack, who is now two. 

Jodie recalled: “My life flashed in front of my eyes. I took about six pregnancy tests and I couldn’t believe it had happened. 

“The support I received from Edge Hill was phenomenal, I can’t thank them enough and if it wasn’t for the guidance from some of my lecturers, including Kevin Armstrong, Karen Simpson and Andy Kirk, I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself to go back to university after having Jack, they were fantastic in helping me with that transition. 

“It’s been really hard having to juggle motherhood and university, but it proves that having a child doesn’t mean you have to give up on your studies. You can do both, you just have to be prepared to work a little bit harder for it.” 

Jack was born in December 2018 and Jodie made the decision to return to university the following October. 

She explained: “Having Jack gave me more of an incentive to want to carry on with my studies. I always want to make him proud and for him to be able to say to his friends that his mummy is a paramedic.” 

It was an experience earlier in her life that had initially inspired Jodie to consider a career as a paramedic. Jodie’s dad, Alan, suffered a brain aneurysm when she was five, an experience which left a lasting impact on her.  

Jodie said: “If it wasn’t for the paramedics, my dad wouldn’t have survived that day. So, I feel like I can relate a lot to the patient experience and the trust you place in paramedics in that moment when your loved one is in need of urgent care.” 

Prior to studying at Edge Hill, Jodie undertook an access to higher education course to prepare her for university, but had to take time out of the programme to care for her grandmother, Nora, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  

Nora sadly passed away in Mach 2020 but had remained one of Jodie’s biggest supporters when it came to her career, and pushed her to follow her dreams. Jodie explained: “My graduation day will be filled with emotion. My gran was my number one fan and motivated me to carry on with university after having Jack.  

“It’s going to be hard because she won’t be there to celebrate with me, but I can imagine that she would be beaming with pride. It feels so surreal, knowing that I have achieved all of this on my own.” 

The Paramedic Education team at Edge Hill University is based at St James’, Edge Hill’s Manchester city centre site. 

The team offer a range of Paramedic Practice programmes. You can train to become a qualified paramedic or combine training in paramedic practice and adult nursing on a dual award. A professional development programme for qualified paramedics is also available.

First-class student on a mission to get young people talking about mental health

An Edge Hill University graduate is hoping to put her first-class degree into action by helping to inspire the next generation to open up about their mental health. 

Samantha Gleed, 21, has graduated with a First Class Honours in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Wellbeing, and is on a mission to normalise conversations around mental health with children and young people. 

Sammy, who is from Wiltshire, now plans to pursue further study at Edge Hill by embarking on a MSc Psychology (Conversion) with a goal to become a qualified child mental health psychologist. 

She explained: “If we can help children and young people to understand their feelings and how to articulate that from an early age, then we can help to prevent those emotions from being bottled up and potentially lead to long-term problems in later life. 

“The majority of mental health problems can be traced back to a young age, so if we can work with children and empower them with the knowledge and literacy to express themselves, it will improve so many other aspects of their lives as they progress into adulthood. 

“Children are our future and I think it’s incredibly important that we support them throughout the transition into adolescence and adulthood to always keep their emotional development in check.” 

Sammy knew from a young age that she wanted to work with children but it was while she was studying for her A Levels when she learned about the mental health challenges experienced by those close to her that motivated her to want to help others facing the same problems. 

She added: “It has always been a given that I wanted to work with children and young people, but when I discovered this degree, I saw an opportunity to train myself up to one day be able to give back and help other people. 

“I was so lucky that I found this course at Edge Hill and I have loved every moment, I would recommend the programme to anyone. 

“The campus felt like a home from home for me, coming from a small village in Southampton to Ormskirk. As soon as I arrived at Edge Hill I felt at home and l I knew that it was the place for me. Studying here was the best decision I’ve made.” 

Society needs people who understand the whole health and social care system. Edge Hill’s Health and Social Care programmes will help you to learn the skills you need to work in a range of settings and develop the empathetic mindset you need to deliver effective care.  

We’ll help you find invaluable placement opportunities in the NHS and local government. Already confident working in practice, you’ll be ready to take on a range of roles or move on to further study for clinical and non-clinical careers. 

Edge Hill graduate gets top marks for vegan chocolate bar

A picture of Abigail Baldwin in a graduate cap and gown.

A nutrition and health student who spearheaded the design of a new vegan chocolate bar is graduating from Edge Hill University with a First Class Honors degree.  

As part of her course, Abigail Baldwin was encouraged to take the innovation and entrepreneurship module which asks students to create the recipe for a food product. Being a long-time vegetarian, she saw a gap in the market for a vegan chocolate bar that tastes as good as the real thing.  

She set about designing and coming up with a chocolate bar but felt she needed a little extra help and contacted famous Wigan based chocolate shop Choc Amor for some advice. Owner Paul Williams kindly opened his doors for Abigail to visit his shop and learn more about how their chocolate is created. 

Abigail said: “The chocolate bar I created is called Alma which means nourishing for the soul. I worked with Choc Amor who invited me into their shop and taught me a lot about how they produce their chocolate as well as what flavours complement one another and what ingredients are best to use. It really helped me with the recipe for my product. 

“I also worked with a graphic designer I know and created the entire product from top to bottom. All the ingredients are chosen, the packaging is designed and the branding it done, and I think it tastes lovely. Sadly, I don’t have the money to launch it as a product for the shops but maybe one day, or maybe there’s an investor out there who can help me.” 

A picture of a vegan chocolate bar with pink and yellow packaging.

Abigail’s lecturers were really impressed with her work on the project I was also trained in organoleptic testing and undertook a product development masterclass. Alongside this I worked with a graphic designer to have my packaging and logo designed for Alma. I can send over the finished design if you’re interested?” 

Hazel Flight said: “Abigail went above and beyond in relation to this gaining experience in a real chocolate shop and putting huge amounts of thought to create a product you could easily see on the shop floor. I really hope that one day she gets to create her chocolate bar for real.” 

Abigail Baldwin found herself fascinated by the science behind nutrition after attempting to get “beach body ready” before a holiday, following advice she found on Instagram. She found herself losing far too much weight and wanted to make sure she didn’t do the same thing again.  

Abigail explained: “So my dissertation was “Examining the relationship between the frequency of Instagram use and eating habits in young adults living in the UK”. I think there’s so much dangerous advice out there about what people eat. It was writing about this that has cemented my decision to apply for a masters next year specialising in disordered eating so one day I can go on to help people. 

“I can’t thank Edge Hill enough for all the support I’ve had during my degree and all the friends on made on the course. It’s been a great three years.” 

Edge Hill offers a wide variety of applied health and social care courses that look at aspects of nutrition, psychology, public health, and wellbeing. To find out more visit the course page – www.edgehill.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/health-and-social-care/

Brave student graduates with First in face of battle with leukemia

A brave Edge Hill student has graduated with First Class Honours despite a gruelling battle with leukemia. 

Sadie, wearing her cap and gown, smiles at the camera while standing in front of a water fountain.

Sadie Blood had just started the second year of her BA (Hons) Education degree when she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. 

But she remained determined to continue her studies and went on to be awarded top marks in her cohort for her dissertation and a First overall. 

The 22-year-old from Leigh said: “I’ve always had my heart set on coming to Edge Hill. 

“Graduating from Edge Hill has always been my ultimate goal and I’m so happy to have been able to come back to campus for an actual ceremony. 

“There were times when I didn’t think I’d get to this point so to be able to pick up my certificate in person is amazing.” 

Sadie first noticed a lump in her neck while on holiday during the summer break between her first and second year at Edge Hill University. 

“I just thought I’d been bitten at first but then I found a second lump. It sounds weird but I knew it was cancer; I was terrified.” 

Her concerns were taken seriously by her GP and she was fast-tracked for an ultrasound. 

“This was going on while I was starting second year. I went all out during Freshers’ Week because I just knew I was really ill. Then I had a breakdown in one of my lectures and phoned my mum to tell her all about it. It all happened so quickly then.” 

Following diagnosis, Sadie moved back home with her parents Diane and Bernard, and started treatment at The Christie Hospital immediately. 

But her Edge Hill friends rallied round and were a huge support during her illness. 

“They took it in turns to come to appointments with me and would come and see me in hospital.  They even threw me an ‘All Seasons’ party to make up for what I would miss while having treatment. They just treated me like I was normal.” 

But as intensive treatment progressed and Sadie’s health deteriorated, friends and family felt it would be better for her to put her studies on hold. 

Sadie wears a black t-shirt and smiles at the camera.
Sadie getting ready for her first night out after undergoing treatment.

“Everyone was saying to stop, doctors were telling me I needed to put my health first but I was determined to carry on.” 

Sadie battled through chemotherapy and faced the added trauma of sepsis and facial nerve damage; she could only walk with the help of crutches. 

“It was a nightmare,” she admitted. “Uni work was the only thing keeping me going.” 

Sadie completed her assignments with the help of a key worker and valiantly kept going until the May of her second year. 

But her health continued to deteriorate and she eventually made the tough decision to defer, restarting her second year the following September. 

“It was difficult going back; I’d been away from campus for a year. But I’d worked so hard to get to uni; I needed to graduate and nothing was going to stop me. I have days where I still can’t believe what happened but I’ve had no choice but to get on with it. This is my life now.” 

Sadie’s tutor Dr Beth Garrett commended the student on her “positive and resilient attitude”. 

“I cannot express my admiration for how she has dealt with this,” Beth said. 

“It would have been very easy to give up or to submit to feelings of self-pity but Sadie battled through this, returning to university with a new cohort and completing her degree with First Class Honours. 

“Her dissertation was a truly ground-breaking study and represents the pinnacle of all her hard work in the most challenging of circumstances. 

“I am so proud of everything she has achieved and she is a true inspiration to others.” 

Sadie finished her treatment in June but will continue to undergo regular check-ups for at least another year. 

She is now taking some time out to recuperate before hopefully returning to Edge Hill to study a Masters in Education. She is also looking forward to supporting her 19-year-old sister Carrie as she embarks on her own Edge Hill adventure studying sports coaching. 

Edge Hill offers a variety of Education degrees ranging from BA (Hons) Early Years Education to BA (Hons) Education and English.

Student overcomes life-threatening odds to get top marks

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.

Accountancy student’s hard work adds up to special prize

An accountancy student’s hard work has added up to top marks and a special prize. 

Elise Steward has been awarded a Liverpool Society of Chartered Accountants (LSCA) prize at her graduation from Edge Hill University in recognition of being the best performing student in her cohort. 

The 22-year-old BSc (Hons) Accountancy student from Walsall said it was “a lovely surprise” to be awarded the £100 prize alongside her certificate for a First Class Honours after setting herself a series of personal goals. 

She has urged other students to “grasp the opportunities” Edge Hill offers “because they don’t know where they’ll take you next.” 

She said: “I really can’t believe I’ve won this prize. All I did was go to the lectures and do the work so it’s quite surreal but nice to be recognised. 

“I didn’t really set my sights on it as such but after I started getting quite high marks, I set myself personal goals like getting the Academic Achievement scholarship in second year. I then decided I wanted to aim for a first in every module by the end of third year. They were just goals I kept to myself to keep me motivated.” 

Elise decided to pursue a career in accountancy and finance after taking part in work experience in sixth form and she felt confident the Edge Hill course was perfect for her. 

“Completing my degree has only made me more sure of this; the University has made sure I leave not only with a degree and the professional exemptions that I was after, but I am also now a well-rounded graduate who is prepared for a career in the industry.” 

Elise is excited to be continuing her education with an MSc Finance at the University of Siena in Italy, due to start in September. 

“I participated in one of Edge Hill’s Language Steps courses in Italian during second year, funded by the University’s Student Opportunity Fund which I’m incredibly grateful for, which has proven invaluable for this next step in my career. 

“I’ve loved my time at Edge Hill. I’ve made friends for life and I’m graduating with a degree that I’m really proud of. 

“I’d like to thank the lecturers for being so supportive, especially during this difficult last year where we’ve all had to adapt to remote learning. 

Senior lecturer Graham Bloor, Elise’s personal tutor, commended her on the achievement, adding: “It’s great to have the opportunity to congratulate Elise for being the most outstanding third year accountancy student at Edge Hill University. 

“As well as reflecting Elise’s natural abilities and aptitudes, her achievement has also been based on hard work and a strong determination to succeed. 

“Edge Hill University’s accountancy programme is closely aligned to the requirements of prestigious professional bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), and we pride ourselves on producing graduates like Elise who possess the skills and knowledge necessary to launch successful careers in the accountancy profession. 

“It is particularly pleasing therefore to team up with the ICAEW’s Liverpool Society of Chartered Accountants (LSCA), the oldest society of Chartered Accountants in the country, in order to recognise Elise’s outstanding achievement. 

“We all wish her every success in her future career.” 

Edge Hill University’s Business School offers a variety of professional qualifications including BSc (Hons) Accountancy

Student overcomes family struggles to face a bright future

An Edge Hill University student is one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a primary school teacher after overcoming family obstacles and caring responsibilities to earn her degree. 

Maryam Survery, 21, had no choice but to step up to care for her two young nieces after tragedy struck her family in December 2020, when her brother and sister-in-law’s car crash left them unable to care for their daughters.  

Maryam, from Blackburn, made the decision to move back home to become the main carer for her nieces, aged one and two, while also continuing with her degree in Childhood and Youth Studies

She said: “It was a very traumatic time for my brother and sister-in-law because they’d never experienced anything like that before. Fortunately, they have since made a full recovery, but they lost their car in the accident. It was a very stressful time for us all. 

“Trying to juggle caring for my nieces and helping my parents, who are both elderly, while also concentrating on my studies was a challenge at times.” 

At first, Maryam admits that she found it difficult to ask for support.

She explained: “I’m the type of person who finds it hard to sometimes express their feelings and I just wanted to get on with the situation.  

“Edge Hill made it clear very quickly that they would offer me any support that I needed, including extensions to deadlines, which was a great help. Looking back now, it was very hard to manage but I’m so glad that I asked for help and prioritised my university work, while also making sure I could be there for my family.” 

Despite the many hurdles, Maryam remained committed to completing her degree and now plans to go on to study a PGCE in Primary Early Years Education with QTS at Edge Hill. 

“During my time at Edge Hill, I’ve realised that primary education is my passion and I know that the university is one of the best in the region for teacher training. I’m really looking forward to the next step.” 

Whether you’re looking to train to teach or already working in the children’s workforce, Edge Hill offers a range of PGCEs in early years, primary and secondary education, as well as a PGDE in further education. Our PGCEs and PGDE are complemented by a comprehensive professional development portfolio for teachers, those supporting teaching and learning, and others working in schools and educational settings. 

Web design student flies into new job with British Aerospace

A picture of Wade Phillips in his cap and gown.

A mature student is graduating with a First Class Honours degree from Edge Hill University and has secured a dream job with BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, working with clients to design and improve the user experience of their online systems.

Wade Phillips, from Cornwall, first chose his BSc (Hons) Web Design & Development degree after identifying a career in web design as a flexible job with a lot of opportunities.

Wade said: “I previously worked as a paramedic but always loved travelling, I’d often use all my annual leave at once and take two or three months off to see the world. What I really wanted was a job that would allow me to work while I travelled. Web design jumped out at me as a job I could do anywhere and for any number of businesses or organisations.”

Wade chose Edge Hill for its specific web design degree and because of the University’s high employment rate within the profession. He’d never studied coding before but with support from his lecturers he quickly picked it up.

Wade Phillips standing in a garden.

“Coding was difficult at first, but I managed to pick it up and now I’m graduating with a first and all the tools needed to succeed in the web design industry.” Wade added. “I amazed myself by getting the highest mark on the course two years in a row.

“As a mature student I definitely got more out of university second time around. I feel like I’ve learned and got so much out of the course. I would say the top three skills I gained from the degree would be problem solving, teamwork and communication skills but all more so in a technology-based setting, using a range of tools that I would not have otherwise gained experience with.”

“I can’t thank my lecturers enough for all the support and encouragement I’ve had over the last three years, especially through the pandemic where they’ve made learning from home really simple. I also got three scholarships to support me along the way which made life a little easier for me and allowed me to focus on my studies.”

Wade will soon start his job as a User Experience Consultant for BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, working with clients to provide the best user experience possible for their digital solutions.

“My plans for the future are to continue bridging the gap between users and digital products and services. Ultimately, I want to make a difference to people’s lives by utilising the latest research to improve on the technologies they use. Eventually, I would love to start my own consultancy firm and share my passion for user experience with a wider range of clients all over the globe.”

If you’re looking for a career utilising technology and in a growing sector take a look at the BSc (Hons) Web Design & Development course on the Edge Hill website.

If you are in Years 1 or 2 of a full-time undergraduate programme in academic year 2020/21, or Year 1 only of a full-time foundation degree, you may be eligible to apply for an Excellence Scholarship worth up to £2,000 or The University Scholarship also worth £2,000.

Single mum turns her life around to achieve a first-class degree

A Lancashire mum-of-one has proven that it’s never too late to follow your dreams after turning her life around to graduate with a first-class degree from Edge Hill University – and is now on a mission to help improve life chances for others. 

Michelle Clegg, 39, has transformed her life as a stay-at-home single mum to graduate from university with a First Class Honours degree in Sociology and land her first role with Lancashire charity Blackburn Community CVS, where she will focus on supporting people in the region into education, training and employment. 

Michelle, who lives in Accrington, is a single parent to her six-year-old son, Sonny, who she credits as her motivation to go to university and build a career for herself. 

She explained: “I wanted to go to university to change my life. Having Sonny was a turning point for me and made me realise that I need to provide for him, to be educated and to be employable. 

“Before coming to Edge Hill, I’d never had a job interview before in my life and the skills I’ve learned during my time here have helped me to become employable and secure myself a job for the first time in my life. 

“There were moments during my studies when it was difficult to find the right balance between motherhood, university and work, but I kept telling myself then I had come too far to give up.” 

Back when Sonny was three, Michelle embarked on an access to higher education course to prepare her for university. It was during this time that she discovered she was dyslexic.  

She said: “When I came to Edge Hill, everything was in place for my dyslexia. The support from the University was fantastic. Help was always there to make sure I could focus on my work and get the best results I could.” 

As one of the first members of her family to go to university, Michelle explained why her graduation will be an emotional day. 

She said: “To now be at the end of my university journey and graduating, it’s a massive achievement for me. Sadly, my mum passed away a few years ago and I wish she could be with me on my graduation day, so it will be a very emotional but I’m so proud that my son will be there to experience it with me. 

“For the first time in my life, I have confidence that I’m employable. I’m in a job that I love doing, where I can help people. Who knows what doors will open in the future or what it holds in store for me, but it’s looking bright.” 

Sociology and Social Sciences at Edge Hill combines a supportive atmosphere with cutting-edge modules like Critical Autism Studies or Young People and Social Media. There are a whole range of career paths to explore – researcher, mental health worker, police officer or international aid worker. Or you might decide to work with children in schools or even rehabilitate young offenders. Learn about the world with us and discover your place in it.  

Mum re-writes her career

A mature student from Edge Hill University and mum-of-two left her career as a legal secretary and is now chasing her dream of being a full-time writer.

Kate Wilson, originally from Wales but now living in Preston, was happy in her old job but had always secretly wanted to be a writer and wrote stories in her spare time. At the age of 29 she felt the time was right to follow her dream but worried that she wasn’t good enough for a university education.

She was encouraged to visit Edge Hill by a friend who had studied there, and after visiting the campus, Kate found it to be an inclusive place, open to anyone looking to learn. After further encouragement from family and friends, she applied to study creative writing, but Kate said she “still didn’t feel up to it”.

Kate did a seven-week Fast Track course before her degree, and then started studying BA (Hons) Creative Writing.

Kate said: “When I came to see Edge Hill I got this really strong feeling that it’s all about expanding education to everyone and as someone who felt really unconfident about whether I could go to university that appealed to me. I was even able to bring my kids to the open days, which meant a lot.

“Since I started my course I’ve learnt so much about writing, made new friends and had amazing experiences, all of it has also given me an incredible amount of confidence that I never had before. I’ve discovered that I do have the talent to succeed, despite my past doubts about myself.”

Kate also had the opportunity to work on the prize giving for Edge Hill’s prestigious Short Story Prize. The annual event is attended by some of the UK’s best writers, publishers and literary figures.  

“I went to Edge Hill’s Short Story Prize ceremony in 2019 which was a really good event and very exciting. Then in 2020 I was signed up to help organise it. It was amazing speaking to all the big literary names attached to the event. The whole experience really pushed my boundaries and challenged me but was so rewarding.”

Kate now has plans to continue her studies by applying to study a Masters degree at Edge Hill and wants to go on to study a PhD after that.  

“I can’t stop now. I love learning and want to finish the journey I’ve started. When I first started, all I thought about was writing a novel but now I’ve discovered a flair for writing poetry which I find very cathartic. I also love writing scripts and want to explore where that could lead me. I can’t wait to learn more and build my career as a writer further.”

If you’re interested in studying Creative Writing at Edge Hill, you will learn from a world-class community of writers and gain insights into publishing, broadcasting and professional production on a degree brought to life by guest writers, visiting professionals, readings and workshops. Visit the website to find out more about Creative Writing courses.