How uni course helped St Albans student to overcome personal turmoil

Rachel Gilder at the University of Hertfordshire's graduation ceremony at St Albans Abbey

Rachel Gilder at the University of Hertfordshire's graduation ceremony at St Albans Abbey - Credit: Photo supplied

Gaining a first class honours degree has helped a St Albans woman fight depression and suicidal thoughts.

Rachel Gilder, 35, was among thousands of Herts University students attending an awards ceremony held at St Albans Abbey.

The event was particularly poignant for Rachel as it marked the successful end of her tertiary studies despite a rocky and unsettling start.

In 2009, she enrolled onto a part-time course at the university while happily married.

But, Rachel explained, after just one term her husband left her out of the blue which resulted in her losing her home.


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She explained: “My ex-husband didn’t approve of my studying – he didn’t believe that I was intelligent enough. I went through a terrible time when he left.”

She went to live with her mother, whom she described as a great source of encouragement and support.

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Despite suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts, Rachel decided against leaving university as she saw further education as the key to help focus her mind on something other than her personal turmoil.

Rachel has now graduated with a first class honours degree in English language and communication with English language teaching and French.

She was also awarded the university’s prize for ‘highest first class honours achieved by a part-time student on the humanities programme’.

Rachel, who has since remarried and is currently expecting her first baby, said: “I am so proud of what I have managed to achieve, not just academically, but also in my personal life. I overcame depression and rebuilt both my confidence and my life.”

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