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Department of Sociology Students Celebrate Success

Posted on 19 July 2011

Over one hundred students attended the recent Graduation Ceremony on Friday 15th July. Amongst them was Clare Keegan who has a story to tell about her time at York.

Clare Keegan and baby

Clare Keegan (22) leaves York not just as a Sociology graduate but as a new mother too. Baby Imogen, now eight months old, was born early in the third year of Clare’s studies.

Not only did Clare take motherhood in her stride, but she turned it to her advantage by making it the topic of her research. While breastfeeding her new daughter, she carried out 22 interviews with other new mums from the York and Durham areas for a dissertation about the sociology of infant feeding practices. Her dissertation on the social constraints and pressures faced by young mothers in relation to both breast and bottle feeding earned Clare outstanding marks.

Clare, from Durham, says: “It hasn’t been easy but it’s been a fantastic year. I love being a mum! Originally I was really worried about whether I’d be able to stay at University with a newborn, but I was determined to complete my degree.

“My dissertation has been a major part of the year, and taking on a topic which combined my personal and academic life really helped me to stay focused. My partner has helped me manage being a student and a new parent, as he understands what it’s like as he’s also a student at York. My mum and partner’s mum, neither of whom live in York, have been really supportive with helping me get to lectures and seminars.”

Imogen was born three weeks into the first term of Clare’s final year and although Clare missed a couple of lectures in the first term, she made a presentation just two weeks after Imogen was born and did not miss a single lecture from the second term onwards.

Baby Imogen has become a common sight in the library and in the Department of Sociology. “My Department have been very supportive, always welcoming Imogen and happy to see her, which has been very important to me,” says Clare. “Knowing that my supervisors and tutors wanted me to succeed really encouraged me to keep going.”

Her experiences of motherhood have also helped Clare in her choice of career and she will begin a midwifery course in Bradford this autumn.

Clare says, “Midwifery has always been something that's interested me but I wasn’t sure what it really entailed or whether it would suit me. When I was pregnant I became interested in everything to do with pregnancy and birth and would go to the University library and take out the midwifery and medical childbirth textbooks. My desire to become a midwife just grew from there.

“I had a wonderful midwife at the University health centre, and I chatted to lots of midwives during my pregnancy about their role, which contributed as well. Becoming a mum made me realise that I was capable of taking on the challenge.”