Graduation tales: Single-Mum graduates with top marks from USW

Helen Harrison

Helen Harrison has graduated from University of South Wales (USW) with a first-class honours degree in Marketing, despite overcoming many challenges throughout her studies.

Helen, a mature student from Fairwater, Cardiff, studied full-time on the BA (Hons) Marketing degree whilst also being single-parent to her six-year-old son, Logan. She decided to study marketing because she had gained some experience whilst in various jobs and found it an interesting topic, especially the impact of social media on brands and consumers.

During her first year, her sister, Alice was diagnosed with cancer, and then again with secondary cancer last year. This put more pressure on Helen and her family as they tried to juggle childcare, as well as provide Alice with much-needed support.

Despite this, at the end of the first year, Helen won an award for achieving the highest marks in her year. She was presented with a certificate that is now framed and hung in pride of place in her home.

More recently, Helen was referred for an autism diagnosis, which is still to be finalised. She was demonstrating some behaviours that aligned with autism. When her doctor referred her she experienced a sense of relief. Helen said “this explained a lot from my childhood and why I put so much pressure on myself”.

Helen said “I am the third in my family to study at University of South Wales, Mum and Alice are also graduates.

“I really enjoyed the course. My highlight was working with real clients, offering marketing advice. Also, the tutors were passionate about their subject and that came through in the lectures.

“Being a mature student has its benefits, I acted as course representative in the final two years, perhaps because I felt more confident than my peers to ask the tutors questions”.

“I have dedicated my dissertation to Logan. Though he doesn’t know much different as he was in nursery when I started the degree, it’s been hard for me to have to take time away from him to get on with my work. However, it has definitely been worth it in the long run. He was very impressed with the bound copy of my research – he thinks I have written a book!”