Graduation Tales | Lynne uses experience of menopause to help others

Lynne Hughes-Williams

The International Convention Centre Wales in Newport has once again seen thousands of our graduates cross the stage in their cap and gown. To celebrate, we are sharing the stories of some of our inspirational students.

Lynne Hughes-Williams, from Hengoed, has graduated with an MA in Visual Journalism from USW after a challenging few years of study.

Losing both her parents within a few years of each other, Lynne decided to return to education and pursue her ambition of becoming a multimedia journalist and photographer.

After studying the BA (Hons) Photography at USW, she went on to study the MA.

Lynne has even used her experience of menopause to create a podcast series, with the aim of helping to raise awareness of the symptoms.

“I worked for many years as a self-employed personal injury claims investigator, because my previous career was in law,” she said.

“My mum passed away very suddenly in 2016, and I found myself doing a lot more for my dad. He suffered with bipolar disorder, was an insulin-dependent diabetic and his eyesight was failing, so there were lots of hospital appointments to take him to”

In 2018, Lynne saw her self-employed work start to dry up after Government reforms meant that solicitors were no longer outsourcing work, which made her think seriously about a change in career.

She had always loved photography, and so she took the plunge and enrolled on the BA (Hons) Photography at USW in September 2019. However, just a few months later in March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit, forcing all lectures to move online.

“I found online study quite challenging because as photographers, we were used to working in groups,” said Lynne.

“I did a lot of the course work on my own and we didn’t get much chance to communicate in the same way as we would in person. Then, in December 2020, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, and he passed away in June 2021. That was really difficult as I’d become so close to him in the past few years.”

After getting through the final year of her degree, Lynne decided to open a photography studio in Blackwood in April 2022. But sadly, demand for commercial style photography was low, and she found herself re-thinking her future.

“I started the MA in Visual Journalism in September 2023, with the aim of offering content creation services from the studio,” said Lynne.

“Unfortunately though, I couldn’t make it financially viable and decided to close down the studio in April 2023, so that I could focus on my Masters.

“Many a time I just wanted to give up, but I’m proud of myself that I kept going through all the challenges. My lecturers – particularly Julie [Kissick, course leader] were very supportive, and kept encouraging me to continue. Going through grief, on top of experiencing menopause symptoms, made it particularly tough.

“I had actually focused my final Photography project on menopause, but it was only recently, while studying the MA, that I started to realise that’s what I was experiencing. I created a podcast series after interviewing other women who were going through it.”

Since finishing her studies, Lynne has set up her own company – Elevation Creative Multimedia – and does a lot of voluntary work for charities. She also works at YYFM, an on-demand radio station based at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr hospital, where she interviews people and community groups and shares them on the station, so that patients can keep in touch of what is happening in their local area.

Lynne added: “The MA taught me so many technical aspects of journalism and editing content, as well as how to achieve industry standards and aim for a professional standard of work – that’s been one of the most important learning experiences for me. I’m excited to see what the future brings.”