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First class honours for linguist who helped nurse mother back to health

Posted on 14 July 2015

Myriam Grace Day, 22, graduated with a First Class honours degree in Linguistics with Spanish despite taking a year out to help look after her mother as she recuperated from a liver transplant.

Myriam Grace Day

Myriam said the help and support from the University was vital as she coped with one of the most stressful periods in her life.

“At the time I was trying to keep everything going, trying to keep my studies going as well, which was incredibly difficult. I remember sitting exams in my first year and then driving home and taking mum to hospital.

“When I look back now, I see I was trying to cope with the stress of my mum being ill and I was juggling weighty responsibilities alongside my university studies.”

At one point Myriam put herself forward as a live liver donor for her mother and was just hours away from surgery when a donor organ became available and she did not have to undergo surgery.

“I went through lots of tests to make sure I was compatible. I was underweight at the time, all the stress of keeping going I suppose.  For three months, I was driving the 100-mile round trip to Leeds every day from home to visit mum in the hospital and take nutritious food for her.

“There was all that stress and I remember thinking: I have got a presentation in January and can you schedule the operation for such and such. It was ridiculously unachievable to think that I could have the surgery and go straight back to University, but I love academic life and I was worried about taking time out.“

In December 2012 her mother underwent a successful transplant at St. James Hospital in Leeds and is now making good progress. Myriam went on to repeat her second year in 2013, fully embracing student life again.

“I really enjoyed my time at York. I haven’t had the stereotypical student experience, I guess. When I came back from my leave of absence I was getting used to the whole thing again, so I just threw myself into my work.

“I had support from the University, and my supervisor and the department were great. The experience has given me a definite sense of perspective. Everyone gets stressed with exams and I’m not saying I didn’t get stressed, because I did. But it has made me step back and see the bigger picture and it has given me resilience.“

Myriam, from the North York Moors, is now hoping to pursue a career in academia.

She will graduate with a BA (First Class Honours) in Spanish and Linguistics on 18 July.