Broadcast: News items

Graduation 2020: "These troubling times that we face teach us to adapt more than ever"

Mathilde B

The emergence of Covid-19 has caused most graduates a degree of disruption and difficulty in their final year.

But for BSc International Business student Mathilde B, those challenges began much earlier in her last year when she was struck down with pneumonia.

The 22-year-old became very ill in the third week of her final year, spent a week in hospital and a further two months recovering at home from the deadly infection.

She said: “Because of my illness, I could not come onto campus and had to work from my accommodation in Brighton. This was one of the biggest challenges I faced while at university. I wanted to go back to class to learn and discover new skills but was not able to due to my health condition. I am very grateful to the staff of the Business School and particularly my teachers who were very comprehensive and allowed me to Skype or Zoom them in order for me to hand my assignments on time and work from home.”

Mathilde’s illness also meant that when coronavirus did arrive in the UK, it posed a greater risk to her than the majority of her peers.

She said: “The second term of my final year was also quite different due to the Coronavirus. I only attended two weeks of class on campus due to the situation becoming more and more concerning in Brighton as new cases were being reported. As I am an individual at risk due to major health issues, the Business School allowed me to work from home and not attend classes physically. Again the university staff and particularly my teachers were extremely helpful and with their help I managed to catch up all the missed weeks of classes and seminars for the second semester.”

In the face of all this adversity, Mathilde rose to the challenge and will graduate this week with first class honours. She also found the time and the strength to plan for her future even while she was fighting off pneumonia.

She said: “Despite all the difficulties in my final year, I managed to apply to a Masters Degree at Sciences Po Paris whilst in the hospital. This would not have been possible without the solid foundation that University of Sussex provided me with including the possibility of the professional placement year.”

Mathilde will be spending Graduation week in rural France rather than taking part in a celebration with her peers in Brighton. Having overcome so much adversity in her final year, she has plenty of reasons to celebrate.

She said: “Graduating in these strange times during the global pandemic is for sure a very different way than most of us had imagined. I believe however that it's still a great celebration and these troubling times that we face teach us to adapt more than ever.”

By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Tuesday, 21 July 2020