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Tuesday 14 September 2021

First for top class business student despite serious health problems

First for top class business student despite serious health problems

A Leyland student has gained a first-class business degree against all odds after enduring serious health complications and a family bereavement during his studies.

Matthew Clarke says it “still feels surreal” to be graduating from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) with a first-class degree in business and management because his road to success has been so difficult.

The 23-year-old former Balshaw’s CE High School and Runshaw College pupil has spent the last four years studying at the University, first as a foundation student and then progressing onto the undergraduate degree.

"I wanted to make myself, my family and Barry proud and am glad to say I produced work of a very high standard."

UCLan business and management graduate Matthew Clarke

Matthew, who is autistic, dyspraxic and dyslexic, also suffers from anxiety and depression and has to manage a life-long bladder problem. Despite his health concerns, he leaves UCLan with top degree marks.

He said: “It’s amazing how anyone took a chance on me but the course leader for the foundation year, Barry Marshall-Kalina, believed in me. I wanted to make myself, my family and Barry proud and am glad to say I produced work of a very high standard.”

Matthew’s difficulties began at the end of his first year of study when his grandmother, who he had cared for over the previous seven years, passed away.

“This time was especially tough, and it was really quite hard for me to process it all” he said.

“When she was in hospital my grandma made me promise that I would never stop caring for people, which is why I began a volunteering position at Leyland Day Care Centre to support the residents with social activities.”

"I made use of the counselling service at UCLan so that I could talk to someone from a neutral perspective. This really helped me to come to terms with everything and to also carry on with my studies."

UCLan business and management graduate Matthew Clarke

His more serious health issues began in 2019 when Matthew experienced stomach problems that led to a spell in hospital and a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. Despite initially managing the condition with medication, Matthew eventually had an operation to remove parts of his bowel and had a stoma fitted.

The brave student then took three months off University to recover but managed to catch up with the help of his family, tutors and UCLan support services.

Matthew said: “When I returned to University I put all my energy into my studies but I was still having to get used to a new way of living due to having a bag attached to me all day. This was a constant reminder of the trauma that I had gone through. To help me deal with my new situation, I made use of the counselling service at UCLan so that I could talk to someone from a neutral perspective. This really helped me to come to terms with everything and to also carry on with my studies.”

"It definitely helped having approachable tutors at UCLan who always gave constructive feedback and made sure to link academic theories to the real-world."

UCLan business and management graduate Matthew Clarke

Matthew now plans to enrol onto a master’s degree in management at Liverpool John Moores University and will study part-time as he navigates through his health issues.

He added: “Without the help of my support network, which includes my family, friends and tutors, my degree result wouldn’t have been achievable. It definitely helped having approachable tutors at UCLan who always gave constructive feedback and made sure to link academic theories to the real-world.

“I would just like to say how thankful I am to every single person that has supported me and stuck by me for the last four years.”