For Denise Mittoo, graduation will be bittersweet. After losing her father suddenly during her final year, she still managed to complete her degree while coping with her grief. But, though she reflects on how he will not be there to share in this special day, she knows he would be proud.
“I am excited! I am beaming with pride, but feel somewhat cheated that my daddy was so proud and looking forward to seeing me graduate but isn't around to see the moment,” said Denise, who studied Mental Health Nursing. “Somehow, I take comfort that he looks on with pride somewhere, somehow.”
Denise was born in Jamaica where she spent most of her formative years prior to migrating to the UK 24 years ago. It was this background that shaped her desire to go into mental health nursing. “I have always had a passion for assisting people and derive a great deal of pleasure from knowing I make a difference,” she said. “My formative years shaped my career choice as I would regularly see people struggle with their mental health in the absence of any suitable provisions to help them cope. After seeing so many people struggle with their mental health, I promised myself I would make a difference. It wasn't until 24 years later that I was able to make this dream come true once I had fulfilled my obligation to raising my family.”
Denise’s father died suddenly in Jamaica in February this year, shortly into Denise’s final year. At this point she was faced with three assignments and her dissertation to complete, alongside grieving and having to fly to Jamaica and carry out funeral plans. “I laid my dad to rest and missed an entire module, but was proud I could show daddy my last respects and honour him in such a meaningful way,” she said. “I returned to the UK in April 2023 and missed an entire taught module but managed to submit all four assignments albeit a little later. I obtained strong passes in all assignments and dedicate every success to my dad's memory and the support of tutors who went overboard to ensure I succeeded.”
Denise came to university as a mature student and said she worried that she lacked the abilities required. However, she is graduating and is now working as a mental health practitioner in Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Long-term Denise said she would like to look at gaining qualifications towards prescriber status.
“Now I feel confident that I am capable of taking the next steps in my career successfully,” she said. “I have a job offer which I intend to take up and I am as passionate as ever about finally doing what I have always wanted to do. I remain forever grateful for the opportunity to fulfil my dream especially as I am a mature student.
“I have been surrounded by a wonderful group of friends who made the days at Worcester so memorable. These days were not without challenges but were laced with laughter and support for each other.”
The University’s annual autumn Graduation Ceremonies will take place as planned from September 12-14 in the beautiful and historic Worcester Cathedral followed by celebration receptions at the City Campus. No Worcester graduates have been affected by the marking and assessment boycott.