Case Study- Kyrsty Bonham

Kyrsty with fiance Pete and daughter Issy

We spoke to Kyrsty Bonham, who had her first daughter aged 21, while studying Law and Forensic Science. She tells us about how supportive Staffordshire University was, and how she has not had the same experience at her new university, where she is now studying a Masters.

Although Kyrsty was a student, her pregnancy was not unplanned. She and her fiance Pete had been trying for a baby, despite Kyrsty’s commitment to her course. “I was thrilled when I found out,” Kyrsty says, “ but the reality of trying to do my final year whilst pregnant was daunting to say the least.”

“As a pregnant student I found most people very helpful, but when I was a student parent I found some people were less understanding.” To a lot of people, Kyrsty thinks, the idea of pregnancy is more fun than parenthood.

When Kyrsty had Issy, she was four weeks away from sitting her final exams. “Yes, that was a little stressful! If it hadn’t have been for the support of my friends, family and lecturers at Staffordshire Uni I would never have managed it. But it probably was the most difficult period as a small child doesn’t allow for much concentration.”

Kyrsty’s university stopped at nothing to make Kyrsty feel comfortable. She was supported by the staff through her pregnancy and into her final exams. She emailed her tutor and the law school, who were all very supportive from the beginning. “Towards the end of my pregnancy, when I was the size of a house, I had lecturer’s helping me through doors as well as supplying food in the common room.” When she had Issy, they allowed her to have a study room on her own, where she could take her daughter along, and some lecturers even babysat for her when she was taking her exams! “I was lucky with the support,” she says, “They, with my fiance, became a family away from home as my university is 300 miles away from my parents house.”

New born Issy

Kyrsty is now studying a Masters part time at Southampton University, but she does not receive the same support from them as she did Staffordshire. “I am a little saddened that they are not as supportive as they probably should be.” Kyrsty chose to take the course over two years to be able to see her daughter grow up, but she still has a lot of work on, and her new lecturers do not appreciate she has more responsibilities at home than other students. “They can make allowances when you push them. Noone can help if they don’t know so always ask,” she advises.

I ask Kyrsty if she has any other advice for student parents. “The best advice I can give is remember you are not alone, that there are lots of student parents and whatever anyone says its your choice . Do what you want. I completed my degree and graduated with a 2:1 and a small baby. My daughter is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I wouldn’t change a thing. My university experience was fantastic and talking to your university and keeping in close contact with a personal tutor will give you the support you need.”

Kyrsty feels becoming a student parent has made her a better person. She has learnt that being a student parent is about juggling priorities, which is a valuable skill for life in general. “Becoming a parent always changes your perspective on life but I have been able to continue studying while still keeping her in the prime position. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Lillie

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