Mother-of-four Kerry Ann Hemans from Uttoxeter wanted to graduate from university and did so this summer, thanks to a pact she made with her son. She achieved her dream of graduating after she promised her son Denrich when he started his degree six years ago that she would follow in his footsteps once he graduated.
The 42-year-old has now completed a BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care at Staffordshire University. She told the university, “My son went to university and we made a pact, that when he completed his degree I would apply to university myself.
“Covid happened and the course that I chose to study was even more needed. I’ve always wanted to give back and help others. To give that support and care to people who deserve it and need it.”
Ms Hemans continued to work full-time alongside her studies, keeping her degree a secret from her extended family.
“After over 20 years of not being in a classroom, the academic study was completely new to me, all the terminologies frightened me, and I questioned myself.
“Then I remember one question that was asked by my lecturer: “What is my ‘why’?” It was at that moment I decided my ‘why’ – to fulfil a promise I had made to myself of going back to school after becoming a teenage mom.
“The lecturers were amazing and so understanding of my situation. I can’t rave about them enough!”
The woman has graduated with a first-class degree in Health and Social care. 24 years after leaving high school, Ms Hemans donned her cap and gown and collected her qualifications.
Denrich Bancey – known as Richie told BBC, “I always related education to success, I believe the more educated you are, the further you can go on to achieve better things.”
He added, “A lot of people don’t get to see their parents grow up but I was very fortunate to be a part of her journey. She has become a role model for my siblings.”
Recalling the moment she graduated, Ms Hemans told BBC, “The feeling of walking across that stage to receive my degree and to be acknowledged for [my] hard work felt even better than if I had done it when I was 18. It was absolutely amazing, the experience of being on a campus with students from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences was extraordinary.”
She concluded, “With hard work, dedication, determination, drive and support there is nothing that you can’t achieve.”
Ms Hemans plans to do a Masters in Public Health and has long-term ambitions to open a care home for the black and ethnic minority community alongside her sister who is a mental health nurse.