Completing a degree can be tough, doing so while bringing up children can make it doubly difficult.
But University of South Wales graduate Samantha Chohan has surpassed all challenges – completing her degree while expecting her NINTH child.
The 40-year-old, who is married to Paul, a farmer, and lives in Llansoy, Monmouthshire, has just discovered that she has achieved a 2:1 in Health and Social Care Management at USW’s Glyntaff campus.
It’s been a whirlwind few years for Samantha – who initially completed a two-year foundation degree at Merthyr College before going on to USW to complete her degree. And it won’t stop there – although she’s expecting her fifth boy in October, she’s planning to continue her studies by starting a PGCE in the hope of qualifying to become a teacher.
“When I was a teenager my mum wasn’t very well, so I was unable to follow the traditional route to university,” said Sam – who’s mum to Joshua, 19; Ruth, 17; Joseph, nine; Samuel, seven; Abigail, six, Timothy, four; Johanna, three, and 18-month-old Keziah.
“I would have loved to do A-levels, but it wasn’t an option. I left school and went into a number of unskilled jobs, being a care or support assistant, or working with adults with learning disabilities. This worked well at the time, as I could fit it around the care of the two older children and their school.”
As Samantha and Paul’s family grew, they decided to home school their children – which helped with family life and other commitments. In 2013, however, Samantha decided it was time to go back to work, and started looking around for jobs.
“It was very difficult to get the role I wanted without any qualifications, so I decided to follow my interests and apply for the course. Paul was incredibly supportive and really encouraged me to go for it,” she said.
“The foundation course was fantastic, and being able to go on and complete my study at USW in a year was really good for me.”
There were, however, some major hurdles for Samantha to overcome.
“When I was at USW I suffered from anaemia, and that was really debilitating at times, and we also discovered that Timothy had Type 1 diabetes,” she explained.
“He’s been very brave – he’s the bravest person I know. He was only two when he was diagnosed, and has been through so much for someone so young. He’s now been fitted with an insulin pump to help manage his condition, and he’s just accepted it and got on with things.
“All of that was a challenge for the family, as we had to work really well as a team to get things done. That also put extra pressure on me as I had to complete assignments for college – I considered deferring and studying over the summer, so that I could graduate in December.
“However, my tutors at USW have been so helpful. They’ve understood how tough it has been, and have been very flexible in letting me complete my assignments – I can’t thank them enough.
“The study at USW has also given me a great insight into Timothy’s condition. I now know what questions to ask of the medical professionals when he needs to see them.”
Samantha’s religion has also helped her succeed.
“Both Paul and I are Christians, and my faith has really helped with the difficult times,” she said. “I tend to think that, if God didn’t want me to do it, then it wouldn’t have happened. I’m glad that it has and I am moving onto the next step of my learning.”