Samantha-Jane 'Sammy Parris

Samantha-Jane ‘Sammy’ Parris, who graduated with a BA in English Literature

The University’s winter graduation celebrations are an opportunity to celebrate and honour the class of 2018, many of whom have shown tremendous commitment to their studies. One such student is Samantha-Jane ‘Sammy’ Parris, who graduated with a BA in English Literature.

Sammy comes from the small island of Jersey and says moving away from her family and twin sister was the “biggest risk” she has ever taken.

She has a complex case of cerebral palsy that affects all four of her limbs and causes painful muscle spasms and processing issues.  

Sammy, who uses a wheelchair to get around, received support from the University from the get-go and gradually got used to the Loughborough routine, working out the flat routes to lectures and connecting with tutors.

However, the pressure of third year mounted on Sammy, who has struggled with anorexia, anxiety and depression since losing her father at the age of 16.

Despite continued support from the University and the English staff, her illnesses spiralled out of control and in Easter 2017 she had to be hospitalised.

She was told to put her learning on hold but she returned to her studies in September 2017, determined to complete her degree.

This time Sammy was more vocal about her struggles and opted to complete her degree from home.

English staff and Student Services worked closely together to ensure adjustments were in place and that she could undertake oral assessments across all modules, rather than written.

Thanks to her perseverance, Sammy has graduated with a 2:1 and has decided to share her story in the hope it will help other students facing hardship.

She said: “I knew that I loved my education more than I was willing to let my disability or anything else hold me back, but I learnt that people cannot help you if you don’t let them.

“When I returned to University, I took control. I told somebody. I asked for the help that I wished I had asked for in the first place.

“I cannot thank the English department and Student Services enough for providing the support they have done. 

“The department did everything to make me feel comfortable and at ease while doing the oral assessments; a familiar environment, a friendly face and all the time and rest breaks I needed.

“I’m not going to lie - it was tough. However, I got through it and got some marks that I can be proud of.

“My advice for other students would be to establish a good relationship with tutors, both the ones who teach you and the ones generally in the department - you never know who could help!

“Secondly, when you need help ask! Ask before the problem gets too big, even if you think you’re being silly, you’re probably not!”