A woman diagnosed with cancer five months ago has told of her pride as she prepares to graduate today.
Shauna Lawson will graduate virtually with a BA (Hons) in Film Studies and Production from the School of Arts, English and Languages at Queen's University in Belfast.
The 35-year-old, who lives in Lisburn, was diagnosed with breast cancer in February during the final year of her degree course.
Shauna said graduating today gives her hope for the future.
"When I was diagnosed in February my professors were made aware, and I started to attend my lectures via video-link. This was before lockdown and it became the norm.
"Words of encouragement and support were offered by staff which helped my determination to graduate.
"Study kept me focused and my degree would carry me through the difficult times knowing that through this hardship and uncertainty I may just reach my dream regardless.
"The pandemic put a spanner in the works after my diagnosis as I needed a mastectomy to remove the tumours as soon as possible.
"The uncertainty became clear when I was told there was a possibility I would have to wait for three months. But with the incredible work and dedication of my surgeon, I was admitted on March 24 for my mastectomy.
"The surgery was a success and micro cancer cells which were found in one of the lymph nodes were removed, meaning the cancer was caught in time before it spread and the mastectomy saved my life."
Shauna started her Bachelor's degree in 2017. A single parent, she said studying full-time and working throughout her three years at Queen's ensured a challenging experience.
She added: "When I first applied to Queen's in 2017 I was living in a family homeless hostel in Belfast after moving from my home city of Derry. I now have a beautiful home that I've settled into recently.
"To receive my degree today seemed like a distant dream back then, and it means everything to me."
Shauna will celebrate her virtual graduation day and receiving a 2:1 in her degree with her sons Brandon and Cameron.
She added: "Graduating has made me feel proud of myself, overcoming so much and reaching a goal that will allow me to continue further education and open opportunities for the future, I'm really over the Moon."
Shauna now plans to do her Master's in September.
She said: "After graduating I intend on enjoying life with my family and some quality time now before I begin my Master's degree in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies."