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Anna Kane, a passionate advocate for disability rights and an ambitious journalist from Loughguile near Armoy, will be celebrating as she graduates with a First-Class Honours degree in Journalism from Ulster University Coleraine on Friday 5 July.

Anna's journey to this significant milestone has been marked by sheer resilience, determination and a deep love for writing. From an early age, Anna's passion for writing and advocacy inspired her to pursue a career in journalism. She said:

“From a young age I loved to write, and I would call myself an advocate for people with disabilities as I have Cerebral Palsy which created my love for journalism as it allows people to express themselves through the power of writing and speech.”

Born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a condition affecting movement due to brain damage at birth, Anna faced significant complications early on. Reflecting on her personal journey, she shares:

“My birth had many complications. I have quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which means all four of my limbs are affected. For me, there is nearly always a delay in functions such as walking and talking. It impacts individuals from early childhood, both physically and mentally, as people can feel isolated. My motto is ‘don’t lie down to it.’”

Choosing Ulster University was a natural decision for Anna, she followed in the footsteps of her family, who also studied at the Coleraine campus and was attracted by the supportive atmosphere she found there. Anna said:

"I always wanted to go to university and heard great things about Ulster University Coleraine. I never looked back as the staff were so welcoming, and the tutors were incredible."

Anna faced the challenge of navigating higher education while managing long-term memory issues and physical limitations, but Ulster University's commitment to inclusivity and support for students with disabilities proved invaluable to Anna.

“The team at Ulster University were exceptional. From a disability point of view, I was very nervous about starting uni, but I was treated like everyone else, and this was my favourite part. I didn’t have a good time through school, but UU was very different.”

The university ensured she had easy access to campus facilities and support with daily tasks, such as the canteen staff carrying meals for her. "The staff were lovely; they really made me feel included." she remarked.

Despite the hurdles, Anna thrived academically with the support of her family, friends, and the dedicated notetaker provided by Ulster University. Her lecturers' understanding and encouragement played a pivotal role in her success.

“I am so grateful to my lecturers who never gave up on me even when I considered giving up. Without their motivation and encouragement to get me across the line I wouldn’t have graduated and now I have come out with a First. Their sheer determination inspired my own self-determination to get through and I went for it and got there.

Reflecting on her time at Ulster University, Anna shares the highlights of creating new friendships and the confidence she gained.

“The friends that I have made are amazing. Being able to go out and experience uni life, express myself and not be afraid to be me. Ulster University has changed me, supported my confidence-building and helped me be who I am today. I can now go with the flow and stop worrying about what other people think.”

Looking ahead, Anna plans to continue her studies with a Master's in Journalism at Ulster University Coleraine this September. She aspires to a career in journalism focusing on stories that centres around people that give a voice to those who feel unheard. “I like to get to the bottom of things and solve an issue and give people a voice. I don’t settle until it is solved.”

Her message to other students with disabilities considering higher education is one of encouragement: "Go for it. Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t because you can, and you will."

Ulster University’s Journalism Course Director Leona O’Neill said:

“I am so proud of Anna, who has triumphed over numerous challenges to earn a First Class BA Hons in Journalism. Her unwavering determination, perseverance and profound passion for journalism have been truly inspiring to both her peers and lecturers. She has consistently demonstrated excellence, resilience, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. She has been a joy to teach, and we are so excited to see what the next adventure holds for her.”

If you are inspired by Anna’s story and want to learn more about studying journalism at Ulster University, visit Journalism BA (Hons) at Ulster University 2024/25 entry - Full-time Undergraduate Study in Coleraine