Inspirational mum-of-two celebrates successful five-years of study

18 December 2019

Chantelle Gardner graduates from UCLan with law degree

A disabled woman who returned to education while raising two young children has celebrated her graduation success. 

Chantelle Gardner has spent the past five years balancing the academic rigours of studying law at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) with being a single mum to Emilie and Jack. She did all this while living with a mobility disability.

She said: “My graduation was the culmination of a lot of hard work and sacrifice but it’s been well worth it. I was very nervous to walk on the stage in my cap and gown but I’m really proud of myself too.”

The 37-year-old, from Preston, is the third generation of her family to have studied at the Institution. Her granddad was an engineering student back when it was the Harris Technical College. He was followed by her grandma, who studied fine art; dad, who undertook an information system design degree; brother, who studied media production; and her sister, who graduated from the children, families and school programme.

"Inclusive support was great and provided any equipment I might need. My time at University has helped me not just academically but I have definitely grown in my confidence."

Chantelle was working for a local authority and was a single mum to an eight and six-year-old when she decided she wanted to change her life and study law at University. In 2014, she enrolled on the foundation course in law and followed that with four years on the masters in law programme.

The former Broughton High School pupil said: “I wanted a challenge. I found law interesting and wanted to know why some laws existed and the rationale behind them. I heard the Law School offered a great degree and I could easily commute. It was a great decision!

“I enjoyed the variety that UCLan offers and the lecturers were extremely supportive. It was great to meet new friends who loved the law as much as myself and it was great debating with them. In 2016 I visited the UCLan’s Mauritius Campus to complete a development course. UCLan offers some fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime trips abroad.”

She added: “With having a mobility disability, I was anxious how I would trek across campus. Luckily, most classes were in the same vicinity and if they weren’t, I would easily be able to drive round. I had to also attend hospital a few times during my studies but there are processes in place to help students having difficult times. Inclusive support was great and provided any equipment I might need. My time at University has helped me not just academically but I have definitely grown in my confidence.”

Chantelle is currently working in the UCLan Student’s Union Advice Centre helping students with a range of academic and housing problems but, as she has completed her legal practise course, she would like to find a training contract and become a solicitor.

She was one of 1,500 students who graduated in front of her family at UCLan’s Preston campus last week.