Around 4,500 University of East Anglia (UEA) students celebrated the culmination of three or more years’ hard work with their family and friends when they graduated at ceremonies at the end of July.
As well as gaining a degree, many have used their time at university to achieve their ambitions or have overcome challenges with their mental and physical health, disability or home lives.
Vicky Bristow – ‘My time at UEA has transformed me!’
Vicky Bristow, 41, credits the support and opportunities she has received at UEA in helping her to grow her confidence and overcome difficulties in her home life; she is graduating with a degree in BSc Cognitive Psychology.
She said: “Studying for this degree has helped me to build myself up from someone who was afraid to leave the house into a strong, confident woman. My time at UEA has transformed me!
“I was very ill after giving birth to twins in 2009 after having two haemorrhages, both of which would have killed me without intervention from a skilled medical team and six units of blood.”
Vicky’s children were both diagnosed with a rare form of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, learning disabilities and she was told they would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of their lives. She said: “They underwent multiple operations and hospital appointments while I was studying, and at times juggling my work with family life was hard. However, they are now progressing with their walking and doing really well.”
Vicky has been involved in several of activities while at University including completing the UEA Award to Gold level, taking part in a public speaking course, winning a School of Psychology poetry competition and being part of a winning team on the Dragon’s Den residential weekend, which involved giving a presentation to a panel about marketing a product.
She said: “My growing confidence has carried over to outside my university life, I have performed on stage several times with a choir including at church and even at the Norwich Theatre Royal with Lulu!
“I still have anxiety but have learned to use it as my ally as it motivates me to work hard.”
After she graduates, Vicky is going on to study for a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience at UEA. She added: “I’m now looking forward to the future, working hard, seeing my career flourish and my children continuing to be happy and healthy.”
To read more stories from recent graduates click here