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The University of Sussex

 10 July 2001 

Two "firsts" for Verity

Verity Johnson became a first-time mum during the final year of her BA in English Literature. And she still managed to get a "first" for her degree, which she will collect at the University of Sussex graduation ceremonies on 17 July.

"I hadn't planned to have a baby, but when I found out I was pregnant I was determined to prove I could do both," says Verity, 23. "I considered intermitting for a year, but I thought I'd find it hard to get back into studying after a year out, and I don't think it would have been any easier with a toddler to look after."

Instead, while her classmates were out drinking and socialising, Verity made the most of putting her feet up at home and studying. She completed her dissertation during the Christmas vacation and gave birth in January to her little boy, Dumiso.

"I was going to seminars right up to the end," says Verity. "I took two weeks off after the birth and then came back, often bringing Dumiso with me to seminars. All the other people in the groups loved him coming and didn't seem to mind if I needed to breastfeed him."

Having Dumiso even contributed to her study techniques. "Looking after a baby has taught me time management and focus - although I think I'd like a bit of a career before having more children."

When exams approached, her partner Jeremy, who is Dumiso's father, helped out with the childcare. Now the three of them are moving to Nairobi, where Jeremy has a job with the United Nations. Verity hopes to work in research or journalism.

 Notes for editors 

For further information, please contact Jacqui Bealing or Alison Field, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, email or

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