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University of Sunderland Graduations: Mum and daughter’s double graduation celebration

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Published on 13 July 2022

Veronica Allton and her daughter Holly
Veronica Allton and her daughter Holly

A mum and daughter have proved that the family who sticks together succeeds together – and this week they will celebrate graduating together from the University of Sunderland.

Veronica Allton, collects her BA Education Studies degree, just a day before daughter Holly Allton, 27, picks up her BA Journalism degree, during the University’s graduation ceremonies at the Stadum of Light. 

The pair, from South Shields, began their degrees as mature students after sharing a desire to change their career paths and follow their life-long ambitions, even going on to achieve the same 2:1 grades.

Although both opted for very different courses, Veronica, 52, says studying together inspired them to get through not only the challenges of a degree, but also the difficulties of beginning their degrees during the first COVID-19 lockdown.

Holly says: “We are both very proud of each other.  We have both been there for each other throughout, having our little study sessions together was great. We’ve just encouraged each other to do our best. I’m thrilled that I’m able to graduate the same week as my mam.”

Veronica added: “You often hear people saying university is life-changing – but this genuinely has been a life-changing experience for us both. We’ve been inspired by the degree courses, have learned so much and are thrilled we both get to graduate together.”

Veronica, who worked as a Student Union Rep in her final year, supporting students in a wellbeing role, now plans to study a Master’s in Education, once again at Sunderland and hopes to one day work in Higher Education.

“I am a totally different person from when I started this journey, my confidence has grown and I know that I can do this,” says Veronica.

“Holly really pushed me to do the degree and held my hand throughout, I’m just lucky to have had her on my side.”

Completing a journalism degree fulfills a dream Holly had harbored since she was a little girl, making up her own magazine pages in her bedroom. 

But after struggling through her GCSEs, Holly lost confidence and spent the next few years moving from one job to the next, from waitressing to call centres. But after a discussion with journalism lecturers at Sunderland, the opportunity arose to apply for the degree and she took the plunge.

“This degree has literally changed my life,” says Holly, who now hosts a showbiz slot on community radio station Spark, based at the Sir Tom Cowie Campus, at St Peter’s.

“I have found so much confidence and I can’t wait to get started in this industry.”

Holly is applying for an internship at the University’s MediaHub; the home of journalism and media students. The space was designed to mimic a real newsroom, with news and broadcast channels across a range of topics from news to sport, fashion to culture.

Her long-term aim is to work in magazine journalism.