Late father in thoughts of Queen’s student Rachel as she graduates
A Belfast student has celebrated her graduation at Queen's University, fulfilling the wish of her father who passed away three years ago.
Rachel Dean earned a 2:1 degree in English literature and was joined by relatives to mark the important milestone.
Her father Graham Dean was only 48 when he died suddenly just days after her 18th birthday.
The shock forced Rachel to miss some of her final A-level exams and almost her chance to go to university.
This added more anxiety on top of the grief the family was facing as Mr Dean had always wanted his children to pursue a university education.
Despite the upheaval, Rachel was eventually accepted to Queen's University based on her predicted grades.
Speaking after her graduation ceremony yesterday, she said: "It was a great day. A lot of my family came up but you can only get about two tickets for graduation ceremony so I brought my mum and my aunt.
"My nanny, granda, my great aunt and two of our family friends showed up for the garden party after.
"It was a bit bittersweet, everyone's really happy for me but they do wish my daddy was here obviously."
Already contributing to the Belfast Telegraph's Fashion Spy, Rachel now hopes to pursue a career in journalism.
However, she says her first step is a well-earned night out with her class mates.
Last week, she was praised for an emotional article in this newspaper in which she described the pain of losing her father so suddenly, as well as how honouring his wish she continue her education gave her the drive to keep going.
The response to the article was overwhelming, with hundreds of readers voicing their support on social media and some sharing experiences of having lost a parent in similar circumstances.
On June 15, 2015, Rachel had been revising for her A2 Sociology exam when her mother said her father was suffering from chest pains.
Fearing a heart attack, paramedics quickly arrived on the scene to begin treatment but it's now believed he died before he was even able to be put into the ambulance.
It was later revealed he had suffered an acute aortic dissection, a tearing of the aorta which stops blood reaching the heart which is fatal in the vast majority of cases.
Although a keenly missed presence at yesterday's ceremony, Rachel has said that she was sure that her father would have been proud.