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Graduation stories – triumphing after tragedy

8 September 2015

Amanda Aitken overcame the huge personal tragedy of her partner’s death, and balancing life as a single parent with full-time study, to successfully graduate this summer.

With the support of Head of School Andrea Cameron, her friends and family – and no small amount of incredible personal determination – Amanda crossed the stage in July to receive her Sport and Exercise degree.

We caught up with her after the ceremony to hear about her story.

“I'm a mum of four children, the youngest just four when I started my full-time course. This in itself was a handful and struggle at times to juggle home life and university, also being a single parent at the time.

“I met someone in November 2011 and then moved house and area along with studying. In March 2013 my partner was killed in an accident at work where he was killed felling a tree.

“I received the news while in class and knew straight away what had happened. I was devastated to say the least and saw no future at all. I did not return to university for a few weeks, and after the funeral when I did I just couldn't concentrate at all. I had to leave and was off under mitigating circumstances.

“In August 2013 I came to see Andrea, and with support and encouragement I felt ready to return to study and complete my third year and degree. This completed, I had no hesitation continuing and gaining my 2:1 Honours.

“During this time, an old friend came into my life and in my third year I also had a wedding to plan – my own. I have now been happily married for a year.

“Although I went through an emotional roller-coaster, which could quite easily have made me leave my course, I kept going. Life is tough at times and throws a lot of unwanted grief our way. With the help of family, friends and the support of people like Andrea I never gave up.

“I want others to know that although bad times can happen, we can still achieve our goals in life.”

To find out more about Amanda’s degree, please visit the Sport and Exercise page.

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