Poignant moment as Rachel reaches her goal in nursing
A young woman who lost both her mother and her aunt to cancer will today graduate with a degree in nursing as she seeks to save others from losing loved ones as she did.
Rachel Green (29), from east Belfast, initially intended to become a teacher, but changed course after being inspired by the nurses who cared for her mum Barbara, who died in 2012 from pancreatic cancer.
During her studies she also lost her aunt Sandra, in December 2016.
Rachel said she knew that both would be there in spirit when she graduates today.
This morning's ceremony will therefore be a particularly special moment for her family as she steps up to accept a degree in Adult Nursing at Queen's University.
She said she wanted to give back by providing the same level of care for others that she saw her mother receive.
"To this day I can still remember the names and stories of how the nurses looking after mum became nurses themselves," she said.
"My amazing mum sadly passed away 11 weeks after being diagnosed. In caring for my mum through her cancer I wanted to provide the same care to others who are in the same situation. We as nurses are in a very privileged position to advocate for patients in times of need."
Rachel paid tribute to Queen's for supporting her throughout her studies, although said at times getting to her graduation day felt like an impossible goal.
"It feels great to be graduating from Queen's with a First Class Honours in Adult Nursing. Something, which at times, I didn't think was attainable," she said.
"Within the university the personal tutors and lecturers were always willing to help and support me. Personally, the start of my final year was extremely tough with the passing of my aunt, but the support shown to me by our year lead was beyond what I could have expected and helped me through that difficult time."
Rachel is currently working at the Ulster Hospital with plans to specialise in palliative care.
"To my amazement I was offered a job in the same ward in which my mum and aunt were nursed, as if this was the path my nursing career was to take," she added.
"Although neither my mum nor aunt will see me graduate, I know they have been beside me every step of the way."