When Ashleigh Hyland graduates from Queen’s University today with a degree in finance it will be the second time that she has been in the limelight for the annual ceremony.
Twenty-three years ago, her mother Michele dashed from hospital after giving birth to Ashleigh to attend her own graduation celebrations after concluding five years of medical studies.
Although Michele missed the ceremony, she made it to Queen’s on time for the garden party on the front lawn — with newborn Ashleigh in her arms.
>> Click here for full list of Queen's University graduations July 2 2012
Today, Ashleigh will stand in the exact same spot as her proud mother did in July 1989, but this time she will be the one graduating with a First Class Honours degree.
Michele said: “It will be like going back in time but the baby who was in my arms is now the one standing there as a graduate.”
Ashleigh added: “I had heard the story about mum’s graduation briefly but it was not until recently that I heard the full version. I think today will be quite poignant for mum and for my grandparents, who attended Queen’s themselves.
“It was cool recreating a picture that was taken 23 years ago and a lovely one to add to the family collection.”
Ashleigh is the fourth generation of her family to graduate from Queen’s. It was at the university that her mother and father, Michael, who was also studying medicine met.
Her grandmother, Patricia Hyland, who studied law at Queen’s and her grandfather Edgar Cooke, who studied economics, will also be there to mark Ashleigh’s achievements.
Michele said: “I went into labour on June 29 but because Ashleigh was premature and jaundiced they had to keep her in hospital. They discharged us on July 6 and I literally left the Royal maternity ward and went straight to the garden party held on the lawn at Queen’s with baby in arms.
“I was absolutely exhausted but I really wanted to make some part of the graduation and was |absolutely delighted to have made it.”
She added: “It was only when I brought out the baby photos Ashleigh said that the building in the background of the graduation picture was where all her lectures had been held.”
Commenting on today’s events, Michele said: “It will be a very proud day for all of us.
“Ashleigh is fantastic, she’s a great sportsperson and academic.”
Ashleigh, who will be starting work for Belfast company Blackcube in September as an analyst, is also looking forward to continuing a long family tradition.
The successful swimmer said: “I am really looking forward to it.
“I am carrying on a bit of a family tradition and it’s nice knowing that your family has gone there before.”