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Shelly Vaughan (aged 32) from Huntington smiled with pride at the York College Graduation ceremony when she was awarded a 2:1 in BA (Hons) Business Management having coped with a life-threatening disease during her studies.

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During five years studying at York College Shelly fought a debilitating and painful illness called ulcerative colitis; an auto-immune disease. Due to complications Shelly was admitted to hospital 13 times in one year and underwent three major operations, one of which was an emergency life-saving procedure.

Shelly, started studying at York College in 2009 and completed a Foundation Degree in 2011. Unfortunately when she returned to College the following year to study the BA (Hons) degree Shelly was diagnosed with the illness which became so acute she had to miss a whole year of study in 2013. On returning to College Shelly continued to study the challenging course, despite undergoing surgery and writing her dissertation from her hospital bed.

She says: “I had lost everything and I was determined to get my degree so I could focus on getting a career. I felt I could have a second chance if I could salvage my studies and achieve my goals. I want to be successful at what I do and I want a good career - my Honours degree gave me the opportunity. I believe if you want your life to change you have to work at it, it’s not just going to magically happen. I am very grateful to the staff at York District Hospital without whom I would not be here and the tutors at York College who have been so understanding and supportive.”

Shelly was a Special Constable with North Yorkshire Police and throughout her studies she worked for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, answering 999 calls. Shelly is now doing this job full-time and helps to save other people’s lives. She has dealt with many emergency situations such as delivering babies and successful CPRs. She says: “I would like a job that involves emergency contingency planning, even though I know it is very hard to get into. I would like a career now.”

Related Story: York College Graduation Ceremony 2014

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