Graduating in style - students celebrate

WESTON College students celebrated success at their annual graduation ceremony - and highlighted how determination can get the best results, even in difficult circumstances.

This was certainly true for graduate Hilary Marsh, aged 51, of Worle, whose academic career has been far from smooth.

Hilary has just graduated with a distinction, but while studying for her foundation degree in inclusive practice, her husband Stephen died and her 14-year-old-son underwent two bouts of open heart surgery.

She said: “Stephen was ill for a while but his death was very sudden. I don’t really know what was going through my head at the time, but I think it made me more determined.”

Stephen died, aged 56, from pneumonia, and previously suffered with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Their son, Lewis, aged 14, also had had a heart valve replacement operation but this failed and he had to have a second operation.

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Hilary has also maintained a job at Weston College, where she works with students with disabilities and learning difficulties.

She said: “I have four children in total and I had to think of them too. I think all of this together helped me to focus and it gave me something to aim for.

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“I wanted to prove I could do this. I am the first person in my family to get a degree, so I’m very pleased and proud.

“I’m so glad I’ve seen this through, and so if I can do it anyone can.”

Hilary was joined at Thursday’s ceremony by more than 200 fellow students who all gathered at the Parish Church of St John.

Another graduated who faced a challenge during her studies was Hayley Cross, aged 30, of Wrington. Hayley became pregnant in her first year of her foundation degree in early years and gave birth in her second year to a baby girl, Jasmine.

She said: “I went back when she was four weeks old. The pregnancy wasn’t too bad, it was harder in the week after she was born but I have a very supportive family and great friends.

“The work was hard but I never missed a deadline. I feel very proud of myself. But I could not have done it without my friends and family.”

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