There will not be a dry eye in the house next week, when a young south Armagh woman graduates from the University of Ulster at Coleraine.
It is the ultimate tale of triumph over adversity, of the strength of the human spirit and a determination and will to succeed at all costs.
It is now over three years since Séanín Smith, from Belleeks, was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS).
She has had to learn to walk again four times and fought back after suffering a stroke last year.
Sixteen-months-ago the brave Belleeks student’s family started a Facebook page – The Fight On Campaign For Séanín – to raise money to fund specialist treatment. It is a campaign which the community took to its hearts, with a response which has overwhelmed Séanín and her eternally grateful family.
Despite everything she has been through she smiles on and is never deterred; she has been truly inspirational and last year lifted the Overcoming Adversity Award at the Spirit of NI Awards.
Monday will be the latest stop on an amazing and emotional journey.
Before even being diagnosed with EDS, Séanín – like so many other young woman – decided to go to university.
And in May, after five years at uni, two semesters out and 10 hospitalisations she completed her degree.
She took to Facebook to break the news: “After many people and many docs didn’t think I would but I’ve done it finally and loved every minute of it!”
Sister Louise told Armagh I that Séanín will now be graduating on Monday afternoon in Coleraine.
And she will also be attending an awards event on Monday morning, where she will be presented with the University of Ulster’s Undergraduate Student of the Year!
It’s typical Séanín though – she will not let her condition stop her in her tracks.
This remarkable young woman is already planning to return to university in September to study for her Masters in Dietetics.
Such a story of sheer courage and determination – Séanín Smith, we have to say, is one in a million, a true role model and Armagh I would like to wish her all the best on Monday and on her future educational journey.
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