A teenage mum and a girl who battled back from pneumonia are among the inspirational Sheffield students who have triumphed over adversity to shine in their A-level exams.
Melanie Lawson from Shirecliffe, and Sarah Firth from Hillsborough, were two of thousands celebrating yesterday.
Melanie, now 19, was studying for her GCSEs at Firth Park Community Arts College when she found out she was pregnant. Yesterday she learned she had achieved two As, a B and a C in her A-levels at Hillsborough College.
Now the budding teacher – along with her son Benjamin, now three, and his dad Alex Packer, 20, an events sales manager – is off to The University of Liverpool to study geography. “I hope my story shows you can go to college, there is childcare and support, it’s just about getting into that routine and being organised,” said Melanie.
“There are stereotypes out there about teenage mums, and a lot of people thought I wouldn’t go back to college after having a year out, but I was determined to prove myself.
“It was a shock to find I was pregnant. It was tough at times. I was trying to juggle college and childcare and a social life, not being able to do things like my friends did, but you do get more life experience which is good. I’m so relieved to get the grades I need - I’ve been up since 4am worrying!”
Fellow Hillsborough College student Sarah Firth, also 19, picked up an A* in business studies and a B in physics to add to her A grade in maths - despite missing years of school after contracting pneumonia.
She had to study at home and from her hospital bed - but her dedication paid off and she will now take a maths degree at The University of Sheffield.
Sarah, from Hillsborough, whose illness aged 12 affected the next years of her life, said: “To get an A* is amazing!
“I had to leave school in Year 8 but I did education at home and in hospital to get my three GCSEs.
“It was disappointing because I’ve always loved school, but I was determined to go to college.
“I’ve still got some problems with my chest but it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life.
“The reason I am talking about it now is so hopefully it will make a difference to other people.”
Hillsborough College principal Heather Smith said many students had to ‘overcome personal challenges’ to succeed.