A mother of four from the Cynon Valley has achieved first class honours in her university studies after returning to education.
Melissa Haggett graduated with a BA (Hons) in Event Management.
After leaving school at 16, the idea of university couldn’t have been further from Melissa’s mind.
She had her first daughter at 18, and was working as a cosmetics assistant when she discovered her passion for events.
“I introduced a fundraising element into all the events I organised at work,” said Melissa.
“I realised how much I wanted to do this as a career, and started to look into university courses.
“A friend of mine persuaded me to apply, and I found out I could get in by studying a Certificate of Higher Education.
“I did better than I ever expected to in the first year – I was in total shock. I was useless when it came to computers, and prayed that somehow I could get through that first year.”
Melissa achieved a Merit in her Cert HE, and continued to get high grades during her degree. But just before her second year, her father became ill after having a kidney transplant.
“My dad was in and out of hospital a lot over the space of a few months, and with four children I had an awful lot going on at home,” said Melissa.
“I thought I’d have to suspend my studies a few times, and really struggled to keep going. But I had fantastic support from student advisors and my lecturers, Dr Simon Thomas and Diane O’Sullivan, who did all they could to make sure I could continue with the degree.
“I never once felt judged, and felt as if everything was put in place to help me achieve the best I could.”
Melissa was delighted to get a first class honours after achieving high marks in her final exams.
As part of her charity work, Melissa was given an award by the mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taff in recognition for enhancing the lives of the people in Llanwonno. She also helped organise the Great Miners’ Run last month – a hugely successful event which raised money for community groups in Penrhiwceiber.
She now hopes to run her own event management company and specialise in supporting charities and community projects.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my degree and would recommend university to anyone,” said Melissa.
“If you put your mind to it, and with the right support in place, you can achieve anything. Studying at university has changed my life in a way I never thought was possible.”