BSc (Hons) Public Relations graduate Shona McLaughlin with daughter Daisy

A Downpatrick woman has told her remarkable story of how she went into labour while sitting one of her final exams at Ulster University.

Shona McLaughlin (23) completed the examination before going to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital where she had baby Daisy.

Six months on and Shona is now graduating with her BSc (Hons) Public Relations degree.

Shona paid tribute to her Ulster University lecturers for being so understanding and supportive throughout her pregnancy and revealed how she felt when she realised mid-exam that little Daisy was on the way.

Shona said: “When I went into my exam on the Friday I was already in the very early stages of labour but I thought I’d be ok. My sister Louise had driven me to the exam and was waiting outside because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. It was good to know she was waiting outside in case I needed to get to the hospital quickly.

“I was able to complete the exam OK but as things progressed I knew Daisy was on her way. Ironically, I gave birth to Daisy on the day I was scheduled to sit my very last exam, but the University was hugely flexible and set everything up to enable me to sit my exam a few months later.  I was so happy and relieved to do so and felt very proud.”

Shona said: “When I first left school I wanted to work in a magazine or newspaper. However after researching my options Public Relations really appealed to me.

“It is such an exciting industry and there are lots of exciting opportunities for new graduates like me. It is an area that every business in the world can benefit from. All successful businesses will already have, or require, a certain level of public relations and many don’t actually realise it. It is a creative, broad method of informing and communicating with target audiences and I find it really exciting. There are many different areas covered within the degree I studied, including interpersonal communications which carries beneficial skills which are valued highly by employers.”

Shona continued: “I enjoyed my three years at Ulster University immensely. All my lecturers were very helpful when needed. I never felt as if I could not ask for assistance in anything, including assignments. My course director, Conor McGrath, was very accommodating and supportive especially in my final year at Jordanstown following the news of my pregnancy.”

Daisy is now six months old and although Shona has taken some well-deserved time to recover and enjoy being a devoted mum, Shona is now looking to the future and taking the first steps towards commencing her Public Relations career.

She said: “I have only started to look for graduate jobs recently however I am not ready to start full-time as my daughter is so young. I am hoping for a part time opportunity to kick start my career within the public relations or marketing sector and gain experience through real life situations. I hope to do a job I love while making my mark, by making a difference within a business.”

For Shona Ulster University will always hold a special place in her heart because of Daisy.

She said: “Having Daisy was the best way to end my three years of study. I’m not just graduating, I’m graduating with Daisy and that means so much more to me. I’m so glad she came when she did and now we get to share this special occasion together. It really is perfect.”

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