Against all odds: Brave nurse overcomes family tragedies to graduate

Nursing student Linda Harrison (47) from Drumlithie near Stonehaven, has overcome a host of family tragedies during her studies and will graduate with a BN Adult Nursing Degree on Friday 10 December at 10.30am.

Linda HarrisonThe remarkable mum has not only endured the tragic deaths of her husband, mother-in-law and both her parents, but has coped with her daughter Nikki being admitted to hospital, and all whilst holding on to a part-time job and studying for her degree.

While working with patients with dementia at Mowat Court Nursing Home in Stonehaven, Linda studied for a HNC in Healthcare which comprised the first-year of her degree.

Not long after losing her mum, Linda secured a permanent contract at Mowat Court. She said: "My hard work and determination was recognised and I secured a permanent contract. My mum knew how much I loved my job and she would be so proud to see how far I've come - I can almost see the big smile on her face."

During her first year of study, Linda faced many challenges which saw her driving to Dunfermline every week to visit her elderly father and studying at her daughter Nikki's bedside after she was admitted to hospital with acute tonsillitis.

Nikki (22), who is also studing for a degree in Adult Nursing at the University, has now fully recovered from her illness and is set to visit Norway to undertake her third-year placement in January.

The family have gone through tough times during their studies, with Linda losing her mother-in-law and father to cancer in 2005. Linda and her children Ross, Nikki and Jack were dealt another terrible blow when, just ten days after losing Linda's father, husband and dad, Neil (known as Harry), suddenly died at the age of 43.

Linda comments: "My husband had a bad flu and sadly the infection entered his heart and he suddenly collapsed at home with Myocarditis. I tried to revive him and keep him with me until the ambulance crew arrived, but it was too late and he passed away.

"My husband was a strong, intelligent, loving family man who is sorely missed. He was my best friend and soul mate. It was a very difficult time for us all, but I knew that he would want me to continue with my studies. He would be so chuffed that Nikki is also now at University and doing well."

Linda was given extra time to complete course work, but after six months off decided to return to her job at Mowat Court Nursing Home in Stonehaven:

"The University was very understanding", she continues, "and I eventually returned to my studies after two years in September 2007 via the flexi-route. This meant that I had the school holidays off and that my placements would be part-time."

After another three years of hard study, Linda is delighted to finally be graduating, she concludes:

"I won't have my lovely husband or parents at my graduation ceremony but I know they'll all be very proud of what Nikki and I have achieved and of how well Ross and Jack are doing."

Sarah Grieve
Communications Office
Robert Gordon University
AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262206
Mob: 07970 622229