A local mother of four has graduated at Lincoln Cathedral with a First Class Honours Degree in Health and Social Care.
After enrolling at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) in 2018, Katie Downes started her educational journey as a mature student with a passion for making a positive difference in the field of health and social care. Despite facing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, her own health issues, and the additional responsibilities of homeschooling her children, Katie completed her degree in five years instead of the usual three.
During her studies, Katie gained practical experience through a placement at Carers First in April 2022. This opportunity led to a part-time role with the organisation, which she managed alongside her studies and family commitments. She has since transitioned into a permanent position as a Carer Support Adviser, providing support to unpaid carers.
In her final year, Katie collaborated with Night Light Cafés (Acts Trust) and facilitated a meeting between the charity and BGU. As a result, BGU will be introducing a Night Light Café in the Students' Union building later this year. This initiative aims to provide out-of-hours emotional support, with trained volunteers offering a safe space and one-to-one conversations to anyone who might need it.
Katie said: "Graduating with first class honours is a dream come true. I faced many challenges and moments of doubt, but I persevered.
“I hope my story can inspire others to pursue their goals, no matter the circumstances. Personal growth can be achieved at any stage of life."
BGU’s Programme Lead in Health and Social Care Nicki Walsh said: “Life presents us with many challenges at home, at work and in our studies. But despite the challenges Katie faced, she graduated with first class honours - a testament to her hard work.
“Katie’s intention to use her knowledge and skills to support those that most need it is inspiring.”
Looking ahead, Katie plans to further develop her counselling skills. She hopes to qualify as an Occupational Therapist and is keen to explore Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
BGU’s graduation celebrations took place at Lincoln Cathedral on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th July and saw 667 students graduate over multiple ceremonies.