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Just two weeks into her BSc Psychology course at the University of Chester, type 1 diabetic Ellen Clift found herself in hospital fighting an infection. Four years on, the 23-year-old is about to embark on the career of her dreams – thanks, she says, to the continuing support of University staff, who call her ‘inspirational’.

Ellen said: “I have definitely learned a lot about my condition while at university. With the help of staff, allowing me deferrals and extensions for assignments when I needed them and time-off for medical appointments, I’ve been able to keep control of my diabetes and live university life like anyone else.

“Gaining my degree has shown me that hard work really does pay-off.”

Ellen, originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, loved Chester – the city and the University – from the moment she stepped out of her car on the morning of the University’s open day in 2014. She said: “When I was being shown around the Psychology Department, I could picture myself there.

“I started studying Psychology at AS level. Mental health is becoming so much more important in healthcare and the broad spectrum of things you learn about in Psychology is so applicable to everyday life.

“I found out that a degree in Psychology can lead to many different career pathways, including occupational, educational, forensic and clinical, to name just a few.”

As part of her course, Ellen, who grew up in Harrogate, studied abroad, in Padua, Italy.

“Attending a different university for a year was an amazing experience. Being diabetic and studying in 30-degree heat wasn’t easy, but to live in another culture, learn another language and different aspects of my subject was fantastic.”

Ellen hopes to one day pursue a career in Clinical Psychology. She said: “It’s a long, hard road to get there, but I’m determined – even if it means more studying!

“I’m starting by getting experience working in mental health, then I plan to do Master’s before a Psychology Doctorate.

“I think my confidence comes from having such great advice and support from the University of Chester. Staff here believe in you academically and look out for you pastorally and personally, allowing you to be the best you can be.”

Dr Margaret Cousins, Operational Head of the University’s School of Psychology, says Ellen has always been hard-working and cheerful, even when her health made life difficult for her.

She said: “Ellen completed her studies, including a year abroad, while battling diabetes and she is graduating with a well-earned First Class Honours degree.

“We have found her determination to continue her studies while managing a chronic illness inspirational and we hope others will, too.”

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