All eyes to the future for new mum and graduate optometrist

11 July 2023

Emily Chell juggled motherhood, working and studying to fulfil her dreams of looking after people’s eye health and vision.

A UCLan graduate is celebrating today, after completing her Masters in Optometry – all while juggling work and a new baby.

Emily, who is 31 and originally from Stoke-on-Trent, has completed a three-year MSc Optometry course – a fast track to a master’s qualification which also enables students to work while they study. UCLan is one of only two courses In the UK that offers such a course, and Emily says the blended nature of the programme really appealed to her. She was excited by the idea of converting from a dispensing optician to optometrist, and felt the distance learning aspect of the course would give her extra flexibility.

Emily, who grew up in Stoke-on-Trent, also fell pregnant during her course, and her daughter Poppy was born just as she started researching and writing her dissertation. But being a new mum didn’t slow Emily down. She finished her dissertation whilst on maternity leave and then - when Poppy was seven months old - started her pre-registration work placement; an internship that all qualified optometrists must complete after they have finished the academic elements of the course. Incredibly, even while juggling motherhood, she managed to complete it just 10 months later – well within the average 15-month period that many take to finish the placement.

Emily says: “The support from my lecturers - particularly around having my daughter - was amazing. It was also great that we were a small cohort of only 20 people on the course, meaning we all became very close and are all still in contact now.

"Completing the course feels amazing - all the hard work has paid off. "

New UCLan graduate Emily Chell

“Completing the course feels amazing - all the hard work has paid off. Balancing motherhood, working and studying wasn’t always easy – but it really was worth it.

Emily, who attended Holden Lane high school and Newcastle under Lyme college, now has a job in Leek, Staffordshire, where she’s putting her skills to good use. She works for Specsavers; undertaking sight tests, working out prescriptions, and checking customers’ eye health.

Emily’s partner's parents and her daughter Poppy, who is now 20 months, were in the audience as she collected her certificate at her graduation ceremony; they are all very proud of everything she’s achieved.

So what’s next for Emily? She adds: “Hopefully I’ll be able to expand my family within the next few years, and I’d also like to undertake more courses to specialise in certain areas of optometry. I have so enjoyed my time at UCLan, and want to thank my lecturers for all their support during my time here.”