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Queen's graduations July 8: Full results and pictures

Brave Jenny Marshall holds onto lifelong dream

By Rebecca Black

A lifelong dream will become reality when one inspirational Queen's University student graduates today.

Jenny Marshall, from Belfast, who will be graduating with first class honours in Nursing, has overcome no less than three brain tumours to achieve her dream - and she has already secured a job in the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.

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At the age of 14 Jenny was diagnosed with a brain tumour causing epilepsy and she had two brain operations at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.

She will always remember the care and compassion she received from the hospital's nurses, and since then she has always wanted to be able to help others in need.

Despite ongoing seizures throughout her teens, Jenny gained a place at Queen's, but was devastated when she found out that she would have to undergo a third operation.

She said: "I was pretty much shattered at the time, having to put my dream on hold. But with the care of the health professionals who looked after me, and the support of staff at Queen's, I had a full recovery and was able to complete my course."

Today, five years to the day after her last surgery, Jenny will be celebrating her graduation with her family, including her dad David Marshall, senior lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's.

She said: "After graduation I'm going back to work in London, in the hospital where I had my final operation. I feel so privileged to be working alongside an amazing team of world-renowned professionals where I can really make a difference.

"Studying at Queen's was a very challenging but rewarding experience and I am very thankful to those lecturers in the School of Nursing & Midwifery who supported me."

Jenny joins the 94% of Queen's students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Meanwhile, today will also see double celebrations for another family. Identical twins Rachel and Laura Smyth from Randalstown will each be graduating with a degree in Bachelor of Music this afternoon, having completed the same modules throughout their degree.

But, having spent their entire lives together, graduation will mark a change in direction.

Laura will start a teacher training course in Coleraine at the end of the summer, while her sister plans to take a year out with a view to teacher training next year.

Laura said they had thoroughly enjoyed their degree which has allowed them to pursue their own areas of interest and to deepen their understanding of the subject.

"Although we have done the same degree, Queen's has afforded us different opportunities and career paths," she said.

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