Deaf student praises Sunderland University as she gains her degree

Nellie Ayiro with her Sunderland Business School lecturer Paul-Alan Armstrong
Nellie Ayiro with her Sunderland Business School lecturer Paul-Alan Armstrong
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A DEAF student has finally fulfilled her dream of graduating from university.

Nellie Ayiro, a single mum of four, had to give up her job in a call centre when she suddenly became profoundly deaf a few years ago.

But Nellie has overcome the hurdle to graduate with a BA (Hons) Business and HR Management degree from the University of Sunderland’s Business School.

She now plans to train as a business studies teacher for pupils with special educational needs.

Nellie, who has two grandchildren, said that without the support of lecturers and staff at the Business School and her British Sign Language signer and scribe she would never have achieved her ambition.

Not having a qualification when she had to leave the call centre meant that finding another job was very difficult for Nellie and she took the major step to commit to a three-year degree.

She said: “The support from my lecturers, particularly Paul-Alan Armstrong, was great, and they made sure the lectures and workshops catered efficiently for my disability.

“The university’s disabled support adviser, Aline Bellion, was really helpful too, and helped set up my signer and scribes. My scriber, Lesley El Alami, played a big role in my time at university as did my signers, especially Leanne Routledge who was with me throughout my final year.

“There were many problems, but now I call them challenges.

“It was sometimes hard not to show how much these challenges affected me, but with help from many people I’m now delighted that I’ve completed my degree.”

Sunderland Business School senior lecturer Paul-Alan Armstrong said: “Nellie is a remarkable student who has achieved a huge amount despite daunting odds.

“We hope her success will encourage more people to grasp the opportunity of higher education, whatever obstacles they may feel stand in their way.”

The Echo is currently running its Degrees of Success campaign which aims to get more Wearsiders, like Nellie, to attend university in the hope of giving them the best start in their careers.

The campaign has already received high-profile backing from Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.

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