Siobhan Igoe combined motherhood with a first-class social work degree
A single-mum who sat an exam while 40 weeks pregnant and raised her baby while balancing her full-time studies has celebrated graduating from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) with a First.
Siobhan Igoe was told she was infertile in 2014, but just weeks into her first year as a social work student she discovered she was three months pregnant.
The 33-year-old, from Manchester, said: “It’s an understatement to say I was totally shocked. Some people around me were encouraging me to defer a year but I was determined and I just wanted to see it through.”
During her pregnancy, Siobhan’s lecturers and fellow students were understanding of her situation, some even offering to take notes or tie her shoelace. “It was uncomfortable being sat in lectures for a couple of hours when she’d be kicking me but my lecturers understood if I needed to get up or leave to be sick.”
It wasn’t just the pregnancy which caused the mature student some issues in the early stages. After being out of education for more than 10 years, Siobhan was struggling to adjust to being in an academic environment again. She thanks the support of WISER, a University team which offers academic support, who helped with techniques and advice to improve her grades.
"I never thought I’d actually do it, I thought it was too hard, I wasn’t academic enough but I did it and I got a First, I’m over-the-moon."
Siobhan says: “I struggled, I was getting thirds so I went to WISER, told them I was pregnant, was trying to get my grades up and spent a bit of time with them. They were brilliant.”
After being in labour for four days, with revision notes in hand, Siobhan had an emergency caesarean to deliver her daughter, Niamh. Ten days later she was back in the classroom.
Siobhan progressed into Years 2 and 3 and babysitting help came from her mum Anita, who they lived with, or with a childminder.
She said: “It was very difficult at times, especially when I was trying to type up my assignments and comfort a crying Niamh but it’s been worth it. I never thought I’d actually do it, I thought it was too hard, I wasn’t academic enough but I did it and I got a First, I’m over-the-moon.”
Aside from the support she had on the course, the opportunity to go on trips to Poland and Canada were another highlight for her.
Siobhan received three job offers upon finishing her degree and now has her dream job – working with children and families at Manchester City Council. “I think if I deferred a year, I wouldn’t have got back into it. I think I would have settled into being a mum. I’m glad I stuck with it, as difficult as it was. The hard work has definitely paid off. Now I can provide for my daughter and show her you can do it if you put your mind to it - against all the odds, you can do it. She’s my little miracle.”
Siobhan, who is now saving up for a mortgage so she can move out of her parents’ home, attended her graduation ceremony with her now partner, Nathan.