Page content

Young mother and Tyrone native Roisin O’Neill graduates today with a BSc (Hons) degree in Business and Accounting despite battling severe health problems over the last four years.

Just before starting university in 2014, Roisin was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a condition which affects over 150,000 people across the UK. Since then Roisin has undergone six operations and has been in and out of hospital, which has greatly impacted her ability to lead a normal day to day life.

Her mental health has also suffered as a result of her illness but despite a number of setbacks Roisin was dogged in her determination to complete her degree with the help of her eight year old daughter Casidhe.

Roisin said:

“The consultant, the doctor and even the pharmacist were telling me that there was no way that I could continue studying and that I should defer until my health improves. I hated hearing that and I wasn’t going to let my illness stand in my way. The more that people said this to me the more focused I became. I wanted to do it for Casidhe my daughter who was great in helping me in all my recovery.”

Roisin also found her illness to be isolating however received great support from the staff at the Magee campus.

“I was worried about going into lectures in case I had to leave at different stages for medical reasons. Lecturers were very supportive. I joined the camogie team which I loved, and although I didn’t get to stay at it, this was a real highlight during my time at university.”

Despite the impact that her illness has on her life Roisin remains positive and is excited about her future.

“I do have bad days, however I try not to let it get me down. When I go to hospital you don’t have to look far to realise that there are plenty of others far worse off than you. I have started working in accountancy with an extremely supportive firm and I hope to continue to build on my career. ”

Dr Laura Bradley, Senior Lecturer at Ulster University said:

“Roisin has spirit, determination, humility and guts that make her a true example of what it is like to face illness but still succeed.”