Kelly coped with cancer and bereavement in the family to graduate with Honours

Kelly Pirie (24), from Northfield, will graduate at 10.30am on Wednesday 15 July with a BA (Hons) Applied Social Studies from Robert Gordon University, despite having to deal with her mum being diagnosed with cancer and a bereavement.

Kelly's daughter Ashleigh was only 10 months old when she began her course. Her partner Craig Mowatt had been extremely supportive of her returning to education but as he spends long periods of up to eight weeks at a time working overseas, Kelly has had to juggle her course and childcare provisions around his work schedule.

The biggest challenge by far came in December 2007 when her mum Deborah was diagnosed with leukaemia three weeks before Kelly was due to sit exams. She was given the option to defer but went ahead as planned, despite having to juggle going up to see her mum in hospital and childcare. This took its toll as Deborah was in hospital for six months.

Kelly, who is the first person in her family to graduate from university, said: 'It was such a worrying time for all of us. Thankfully, my mum's treatment was successful and she is currently on a maintenance programme to keep the disease at bay.'

Then in January 2008, just after her mum was diagnosed, Craig's partners' grandma passed away. She continues, 'It's been a really stressful time but I'm glad I stuck with the course and I'm now hoping to join the police force. My daughter is about to start school so it's a perfect time for me to launch my career.'

Kelly would like to thank University staff for all their help. She concludes, 'My course leader Dave Cox and personal tutor Stephen Vertigans were really understanding and their support made sure that I graduate today.'