An Edge Hill University student is celebrating after overcoming family tragedy to achieve a First Class Honours degree and moving one step closer to her dream of becoming a teacher.
Ellesha Steadman, from Farnworth in Bolton, was inspired to study education after her own experiences with inspirational teachers who pushed her to achieve and follow her dreams.
She said: “I’ve wanted to be a teacher since the age of 13. I struggled in school and was often seen as the class clown but I managed to turn my education around after having an amazing teacher who told me I could succeed and ever since then I’ve wanted to be just like her. In the end I knuckled down and got all my GCSEs and A-levels.”
Now, at the age of 20, Ellesha is the first person in her family to go to university and will graduate with a First Class BA (Hons) in education and religion. She already has plans to continue her education and study a PGCE at Edge Hill.
Reaching graduation hasn’t been easy for Ellesha and she’s faced a number of hardships throughout her time at university, only getting through with a combination of grit and determination and the support of her family, friends and tutors.
Ellesha said: “I caught COVID-19 in my first year, back then it was brand new, no one knew anything about it and I was really poorly just as I was doing my end of year assignments. Amazingly I still managed to get a first on all of them.
“Then, in second year my mum and dad separated which is obviously a challenge for any family. And in my final year we faced a couple of really difficult bereavements. My nan, who I’d helped care for, passed away on Christmas eve and just a month after that we lost my baby nephew too.
“There were days that I had to drag myself into university, but I always wanted to get my work done and my tutors looked out for me and made sure I was okay.”
On top of her studies Ellesha also worked as a private carer in the middle of the pandemic.
“I applied to be a carer after I saw that care companies were desperate for staff and I figured I was in a good position to do it because I’d already had COVID.” Ellesha explained. “I also had a bit of experience from looking after my nan when she had dementia.”
“I’ll admit it was a bit stressful but honestly, I just love caring for people. I go into people’s houses to help them with daily tasks, everyone has a different story and different needs. It’s hard but so rewarding, just like teaching.”
Although it was a difficult time for Ellesha, she believes overcoming those challenges has made her more resilient and confident.
“Everything me and my family have been through has definitely made me stronger and more resilient, I have seen parts of myself I never thought existed. Now that I’m graduating with a First Class Honours, I honestly feel like I can take on the world.
“My family are all are over the moon. They wanted me to graduate so much and they’ve been so supportive. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to my tutors and the university who offered me loads of support, helped me to meet all my deadlines and always made sure I was okay.”
Ellesha also offered some advice for other students going through tough times.
“I’ve discovered that anything in life that matters is worth working at. Getting a degree can be hard but it is definitely doable, especially with the support of my tutors who helped me to manage the stress of life, work and university.