Emily Hattersley, 23, from Rhondda Cynon Taf in South Wales had been homeless at 16 and lost her father at the age nine completed her graduation with a first-class degree in Media and Communications.
At the age of 17, she decided to put herself for care to complete her studies and got accepted to study Media and Communications at Cardiff University. But at the end of her first year at university, Emily got pregnant but she balanced studies and motherhood.
The young mother told The Cardiff Tab, ”I had one thing in my mind the whole time.”
”I had set myself a challenge and I was going to complete it, no matter how hard.”
”My dad died when I was nine, and I was made homeless at 16, following my first spinal surgery.”
”During this time I also had to complete my GCSEs. Studying while being homeless came with its challenges.”
”Mental health issues left me with barely enough energy to attend college, which then further affected me mentally because I felt I wasn’t achieving anything and was just in a stage of limbo.”
”After a year of sofa-surfing at friend’s house, I decided that I would put myself into care. I felt I didn’t want to be a burden on them any longer.”
”I felt like it would be nice for someone to look after me for a change, so I could focus on my studies.”
”I also didn’t have the funds to pay for internet, so this was a very isolating time – but it did mean that I had a lot of time to spend on my A-Level coursework.”
”I managed to achieve grade ABC in my A-Levels which meant I could go to university. I applied for Cardiff University to do Media and Communications, and got accepted.”
”After a night out, I had a hangover that lasted for three days so I knew something wasn’t right.”
”The two pink lines were as clear as day and I immediately got tunnel vision. I started hyperventilating and had to sit down,”
”I could see everything I’d done in my life flash before my eyes.”
”I knew the statistics of students completing their degrees with babies were low. I knew I had a tough decision to make.”
”My partner came into the bathroom with me, and we cried together.”
”We spent the next few days just talking about what we were going to do, and discussed every possible outcome, as you have to in these situations.”
”Four days after we found out, we had just had a big cry and fallen asleep together, and my partner looked up at me and said: “We can do this Em.” I’ll never forget those words.”
”I was afraid of the judgement, and I didn’t want to be laughed at when I told them my plan to finish the rest of uni with a baby,”
”My friends from university would invite me to party with them, and I would make up different excuses not to go, so I wouldn’t have to explain why I wasn’t drinking.”
”I did feel lonely a lot of the time, as a lot of socialization in university is through going out and having a drink.”
”Luckily, though, my partner always made an effort to make me feel special, and I realized that I would have plenty of time to socialize after the baby was born.”
Emily said that she thought of dropping out of university as this idea was ‘always in the back of her mind’ especially once Daisy was born.
”If I’m honest though, the time I almost thought I would quit was after she was born,” she said.
”I was allowed to take time out for extenuating circumstances straight after she was born, so I could complete my modules in the August resit period. However, I didn’t realize how hard this would be.”
”I was breastfeeding every two hours, but still had deadlines looming, and my partner needed to go to work and focus on his own dissertation in the day times.”
”But I had one thing in my mind the whole time; I had set myself a challenge and I was going to complete it, no matter how hard. I’m a very stubborn person.”
This year, Emily graduated with a first-class honors degree in Media and Communications. Her partner and daughter were by her side in this memorable moment of her life.
Emily was asked to give advice to those who are in the same position, she said: ‘Don’t overthink anything.
”Nothing is permanent, any stress you are under will end eventually, so just ride it out and keep your head up.”
”But also, I’d advise to not be afraid of asking for help. We all struggle, but those that succeed are the ones that shared their problems and got help from others.”
”And my final piece of advice would be to never regret anything that happened in your past.”
”I see everything that has happened to me as a learning experience that has made me the person I am today.”
”Life is a journey of personal growth, and every experience is a lesson.”