An Ellesmere Port university student with a long-term heart condition is fulfilling her life-long dream.
Psychology student Jenny Rees, 23, from Great Sutton , who studied at the University of Chester , has earned her place on a PhD course after conducting research into the psychological effects of cardiomyopathy.
Jenny was diagnosed with the disease herself at just six weeks old.
She began her studies elsewhere but moved back home during her second year due to ill health.
The condition, affecting the heart muscle, is suffered by people of all ages and is also the leading medical cause of sudden death in those under the age of 35.
Having grown up in the area, Jenny knew of the University of Chester’s success so decided to transfer and complete her BSc Psychology degree in the city.
She initially planned to pursue a career in educational psychology but became more interested in clinical and health psychology after enjoying modules in this aspect.
Her research into the psychological effects of cardiomyopathy attracted the attention of Prof Ian Jones of Liverpool John Moores University who then offered her a place on a PhD course focusing on the personal impact of the disease on the patient, family and carers.
Alongside her studies Jenny works closely with national charity Cardiomyopathy UK, co-running a support group in Cheshire and Merseyside with her mother Julie for others suffering with the condition.
She also raises ‘considerable funds’ for the charity by organising local events and will be a speaker at the 2016 national Cardiomyopathy Conference.
Jenny was awarded the psychology departmental prize at the university’s annual prize-giving service for her dedication to her studies.
She said: “The psychology degree has enabled me to fulfil a life-long dream to become an ‘expert’ in the field of health psychology.
“The knowledge, guidance and range of experiences I have gained through my time at the University of Chester has been essential to securing a place on a fully-funded PhD course and has given me the confidence to build a career around my passion for the subject.”
During her PhD studies she will have the opportunity to gain a teaching qualification which will allow her to lecture nursing students on illness-related mental health.
Her long-term goals include continuing to research the psychological impact of heart disease and discovering new ways in which health services could be improved to benefit patients.
Liz Whelen, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Chester, said: “All the staff found Jenny hard working and fully engaged with her studies.
“She was awarded the department prize due to her continual dedication to her studies and the department itself.”