Graduation tales: Busy time for Lisa - baby in March, dissertation in April, exams in May, degree in July

Lisa Cornford and her son Ethan. July 2018

Lisa Cornford and her son Ethan

Going through surgery after giving birth is difficult for any new mum.

Making sure your university dissertation is ready to be handed in two weeks later can make the challenge doubly difficult.

However, Lisa Cornford wasn’t going to let the timing of the birth of her son Ethan stop her getting her degree, and this week (July 11) she graduated with 2.2 honours in Computer Forensics from the University of South Wales (USW).

Making sure she achieves her dreams is nothing new to Newport born and bred Lisa, 30, who returned to study after completing her GCSEs.

“I left school not really knowing what I wanted to do,” she said.

“I was always Interested In computing, but because I did not get the grades to go on to A-levels I thought I would never be able to go to university, which left me in limbo with what to do.

“I had always been into swimming, so I went on the complete a lifeguard qualification and worked at my local leisure centre, then went on to teach swimming and lifesaving.”

Not feeling fulfilled in her job, Lisa began to look at what options there were for her, and then she came across the idea of going to university.    

“My dad had recently completed his degree, which made me think about my career. I was 25 and wanted to better myself and as there was no opportunity to progress. I felt I was ready for a new challenge in my life,” Lisa said.

“I was always interested in technology, so went along to an open day at USW to find out more.”

After originally studying on a foundation year in Information Communication Technology, Lisa found that she enjoyed modules relating to computer forensics, and decided to study that for her degree.

Having changed direction, Lisa then became one of the pioneers for the new National Cyber Security Academy (NCSA), which was launched in March 2016 at USW’s Newport Campus. Its students took a year away from their other courses - BSc in Computer Forensics or Computer Security - to do their placement, with 94% of them successfully passing their courses and graduating this week.

“This was a unique opportunity and I feel honoured I was chosen to be a part of it,” said Lisa.

When she returned to her computer forensics study, Lisa discovered she was pregnant. But putting off her studies never crossed her mind.

“I could have taken a year off and started year three this September, but I did not want to do that because I had come so far with a great group of people,” Lisa said.

“It would not have been the same if I could not graduate with them and, I knew once the baby was here, It would have been hard to get myself back into the frame of mind to complete my final year.”

Having given birth and completed her dissertation all within a month, Lisa has a new life to look forward to, and a degree that will put her in demand among employers. 

“It was a massive relief to get the dissertation in, as I could then spend a good few days with my son and partner as a family before I had to get back to revising for my final year exams during April and May,” Lisa said.

“To be honest, I don’t know how I have done It, being pregnant and studying was hard going, mentally and physically, but I was determined to finish, and I did.

“I now I have a degree - no one can take that away from me – and have the opportunity to give my son and family a much better future.”



#computer-forensics #ncsa