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Desire to communicate with Deaf parents rewarded with First-Class degree

Bethany Packwood’s success helps family bond

A Bolton student’s desire to communicate with her Deaf parents has been rewarded with a first-class degree from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Bethany Packwood, who was born profoundly Deaf in one ear, can now confidently communicate with mum Patricia and dad Simon having studied on the BA (Hons) British Sign Language and Deaf Studies degree.

She said: “I’m delighted that now I can confidently use sign language at home and communicate with my mum and dad in a way that comes naturally to them. Before that we communicated via lip reading.”

Before coming to UCLan, the 23-year-old student struggled with her confidence and knew little sign language.

Bethany, a former Bolton Sixth Form College student, said: “When I first came to UCLan I was really quite shy and found it difficult to express myself. I didn’t know where I fit in and worried how people would react when they found out that I am Deaf.

“Luckily, everyone on my course was so supportive and in particular my lecturer Dr Junhui Yang who helped me overcome a lot of personal difficulties and helped me to find my identity.”

There’s still a long way to go as I will have to do a lot of work experience before I can secure my dream job of working in a school but thanks to UCLan I have all the confidence I need to get there.

Determined to make the most of her time at University, Bethany became Vice-Chair and then Chair of the UCLan Deaf and BSL Society in her second year, something that she juggled alongside her studies until she finished her degree.

One of the pieces of work Bethany is most proud of is her undergraduate dissertation which explored aspects of welfare and support to deaf people after World War Two. It revealed interesting facts about the effects of social services provisions, medical technologies and political activism of the Deaf community.

Now, leaving UCLan with a First under her belt and the courage to pursue further study, she will start a PGCE teaching training qualification in September.

Bethany, who went to Canon Slade School, added: “I’m feeling excited about my future and I’m looking forward to starting my teacher training soon.

“There’s still a long way to go as I will have to do a lot of work experience before I can secure my dream job of working in a school but thanks to UCLan I have all the confidence I need to get there.”

Bethany was one of more than 3,500 students who graduated surrounded by family and friends at Preston’s Guild Hall.


Bethany's success has helped her family bond

Jessica Millington | 19 July 2018