Case Study: Ezinwanyi Udechukwu

 I find the idea of motherhood a daunting prospect. I can hardly imagine what it must be like for Ezinwanyi Udechukwu, who came to study in the UK from Nigeria already pregnant, and is now raising her newborn son thousands of miles from family and friends back home. Bringing up a baby is hard enough; add onto that a degree and the fact that you are in a foreign country with little family support, to me seems like a near impossible task. 

Ezinwanyi Udechukwu is studying a one year MSC course in Environmental Engineering and Management at the School of Engineering at Leeds University.“I came to the UK because there are more opportunities for me to learn in my area of specialisation in the universities here. The UK specialises in environmental issues which we don’t have in Nigeria.” She gave birth to a son Udo Frieden Ebenezer on the 11th January this year.

Support from university

In Ezinwanyi’s position, one of the few places she could turn was to her student union. “My departmental student support officers were very helpful. I came to the union and they gave me advice and helped me to get things. During the Student Parent Christmas Party I met the President of the Student Parent society and she also encouraged me.”

“During the last party I was able to meet other parents and people from my own country too which made me happy. I would like more social events, because they bring people together. Usually for me, I study, go back to my house and take care of my baby, but student parent events bring me out and I’m able to meet other student parents and other children.”

Not only is it emotionally straining, but practically and financially, babies require a lot of equipment that can be a difficulty for foreign students who may not have access to enough money or know where to go.

“When I was about to buy things for my baby, the student parent officer advised me how to get things. In fact it was at the last Student Parent party that the President advised me to go on gumtree. That very day I went home and bought my pushchair.”


To help Ezinwanyi, her mum flew over to Leeds from Nigeria after the birth, in order to support her daughter’s recuperation  and enable her to quickly resume her studies.

“As a new mother, I’ve come to appreciate the reason for maternity leave. I try to give priority to my child as well as not let my studies suffer. This is a challenge which I’m grappling with. It has affected my social life too as I have to think about my child first and consider how he will be affected by social activities, especially as I am breastfeeding. If I had come alone I would have more opportunity to go out. Sometimes there are outings I would have liked to go on, but because I have a baby I am not able to go.

“As an international student, I find the culture here different from that of my country. Although my neighbours have been very kind, sometimes I still felt quite lonely. It has meant I’ve had to spend some money on calls to keep in contact with my family.”

Ezinwanyi is bringing up baby Udo while her husband waits for her return back home in Nigeria. “It’s a challenge bringing up my baby away from my husband as I know that early days of a child is important to the child’s health. Udo’s only seeing his mum and grandmother, so it may take him a while to reconcile that he has a father when he meets him. I have to make extra effort to see I give my child enough attention so that he does not suffer lack of parental care. Also, the emotional support I would have gotten from my husband during and after child birth was not same as it would have been if we were together.”

After Ezinwanyi finishes her degree she will go back to Nigeria with her mum and baby Udo and work in the  Nigerian Environment Agency.

Student Parents wishes Ezinwanyi the best of luck in the future!


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