Joy for joy as she overcomes disability to gain a degree at Sunderland University

Joy Fenwick after receiving her degree at the Sunderland University graduation ceremony at the Stadium of Light on Friday, pictured with Kenny Wardhaugh, Mel Craigs, sister kay Fenwick and support worker Fay Hardy.
Joy Fenwick after receiving her degree at the Sunderland University graduation ceremony at the Stadium of Light on Friday, pictured with Kenny Wardhaugh, Mel Craigs, sister kay Fenwick and support worker Fay Hardy.
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AN inspirational woman has battled the odds to graduate from university.

Joy Fenwick’s cerebral palsy means she has severe speech difficulties and communicates using a specially-adapted computer.

Despite her disabilities, the 42-year-old, from Fence Houses, has achieved her dream of gaining an honours degree in health and social care at Sunderland University.

Joy has also been successful on the job front.

In September, she starts as an online additional lecturer with students at City of Sunderland College, where she will help youngsters on the road to higher education.

Joy, who uses a wheelchair, said going to university can be a terrifying step for people, regardless of their abilities, and was a huge culture shock for her.

However, she would encourage anyone thinking about doing a degree to just go ahead and aim for their goals.

Despite times of feeling like giving up – and a nightmare towards the end of the course when a computer virus left Joy panicking she would not be able to hand her dissertation in on time – she said gaining her degree was one of the best things she has ever done.

“It is well worth the stress, hard work and sleepless nights when you see the light at the end of the dark educational tunnel, and you are on the stage receiving your degree, you feel on top of the world.

“When I handed my dissertation in at university, then when I received the email saying that I had passed with an upper second class degree, and finally when I gained employment as an online additional lecturer, are the most fantastic feelings in my life I have ever had.

“I was so pleased that I didn’t turn away from my studies.”

Joy said she owes her degree to the huge amount of support she has been given and would especially like to thank her mum, Jessie Turner Bates, sister Kay Fenwick, additional tutor Bill Wildlish, brother-in-law Ken Wardhaugh, support worker Gillian Burdon, Christine Marsh, Faye Hardy and tutors and lecturers who gave her the encouragement to go on.

Twitter: @SunEchoSchools