First-class achievement for young mum

21 July 2022

University education is life-changing experience in more ways than one

The life-changing experience of a university education is well documented but for one University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduate, life change came about in an unexpected way.

In 2016, Chelsea Edwards, from Preston, enrolled on the foundation year of UCLan’s BSc (Hons) in Biology.

“I wasn’t sure what career I wanted to follow but the UCLan biology programme offered the flexibility to study a variety of science-related topics,” the Preston-based graduate said.

The 25-year-old excelled on the foundation year programme but became pregnant and gave birth to her daughter Holly. “I took a couple of years out to look after Holly and then returned to UCLan,” she continued.

“Looking after a toddler while my partner was working full-time was certainly challenging. We utilised UCLan’s Pre-School Centre as much as we could and split our weekend days so we could both complete our work.

"The UCLan biology programme offered the flexibility to study a variety of science-related topics"

Biology graduate Chelsea Edwards

“I was also anxious that when I returned to full-time studies with a younger cohort of students, I wouldn’t be able to make friends, socialise or perform academically to the best of my ability. I shouldn’t have worried. I’ve made some great friends and relationships that I hope to take through life.

“In addition, my lecturers were very understanding and supportive which made all the difference. Without them I wouldn’t have broken out of my shell and become the person I am today.”

Chelsea’s hard work and dedication has now paid off as she graduates with a first-class honours degree.

Dr Barbara Tigar, senior lecturer and course reader for UCLan’s biology programme, based in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, said: “Chelsea was an outstanding student who was always considerate to others as well as hardworking and high-achieving. She not only performed exceptionally well in her academic studies but by working outside her comfort zone as a UCLan ambassador and intern she’s grown as a person and achieved her full potential.”

The mum-of-one is now planning to use the knowledge gained in her degree to study for a PGCE qualification, focusing on primary school science.

Chelsea added: “In some ways I’m sad to be leaving behind all the wonderful relationships I’ve built with people now setting off on their own journeys. However, I’m really looking forward to graduating and excited at the prospect of moving on to my own new career chapter.”