Belfast Telegraph

Determined Tyrone mum who fought illness to gain business degree

By Staff Reporter

Co Tyrone mother Roisin O'Neill graduates today with a BSc (Hons) degree in business and accounting, despite battling severe health problems over the last four years.

Just before starting Ulster University in 2014, Roisin was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a condition which affects over 150,000 people in the UK.

Since then, she has undergone six operations, which has greatly impacted her ability to lead a normal life.

Her mental health has also suffered as a result of the illness.

However despite a number of setbacks, Roisin was dogged in her determination to complete her degree with the help of her eight-year-old daughter Casidhe.

Roisin said: "The consultant, the doctor and even the pharmacist were telling me that there was no way that I could continue studying and that I should defer until my health improved.

"I hated hearing that and I wasn't going to let my illness stand in my way.

"The more people said this to me, the more focused I became. I wanted to do it for my daughter Casidhe, who was great in helping me in my recovery."

Roisin also found her illness to be isolating, however she received great support from staff at the Magee campus.

She added: "I was worried about going into lectures in case I had to leave at different stages for medical reasons. Lecturers were very supportive. I joined the camogie team which I loved, and although I didn't get to stay at it, that was a real highlight during my time at university."

Despite the impact the illness has on her life, Roisin remains positive and is excited about the future.

"I do have bad days, however I try not to let it get me down. When I go to hospital you don't have to look far to realise that there are plenty of others far worse off than you," she said.

"I have started working in accountancy with an extremely supportive firm and I hope to continue to build on my career."

Dr Laura Bradley, senior lecturer at Ulster University, said: "Roisin has spirit, determination, humility and guts that make her a true example of what it is like to face illness but still succeed."

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