Three students who all fell pregnant and gave birth while in the middle of the same degree at the University of Sunderland have graduated with honours together at the Stadium of Light.
Claire Fulcher, 28, from Bedlington, along with coursemates Marie Hinds, 38, and Stacey Walters, 23, studied public health together at the university before falling pregnant in their second year, only weeks apart.
But rather than take a break from their studies, the adult learners carried on with the support of their tutors and each other.
All three women took a leave of absence to have their babies before returning to not only complete the programme, but graduate with flying colours.
Claire decided to swap her call centre day job for a career in healthcare.
She said: “I always knew that I wanted to study further, but it took me a few years to pluck up the courage and figure out what sort of course to apply for.
“University has been so supportive, especially when I became pregnant with Scarlett, my first baby. I needed to change my module choices and this was no problem.
“As a first-time mum, it definitely helped that two of my fellow students were going through the same thing at the same time, we were able to discuss problems both pregnancy and uni-related.
“After completing my second year pregnant and third year with a newborn, it sounds cheesy but I’m actually really proud of myself for completing and achieving a 2:1.”
Claire is currently applying for a Masters in Psychology with hopes to work in the area of health psychology in the future.
Karen Carling, senior lecturer and programme leader for public health, said she is “extremely proud” of the graduates.
She added: “Claire, Marie and Stacey have achieved so much despite all taking a leave of absence to have babies.
“They all returned to their studies and completed the programme with exceptional results. Well done - you all deserve it!”