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Top student accolade for inspirational Seanin

May 25, 2015

After a difficult few years battling the symptoms of her rare degenerative disease, Belleek woman Seanin Smith has proven once again the power of hard work, determination and positive thinking after being named the University of Ulster Student of the Year 2015.

The 23 year old Dietetics student suffers from the genetic disorder Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). The lifelong progressive disease, which is thought to affect just a few hundred people in this country, debilitates the physical strength of skin, joints and muscles and can vary from mild to life-threatening.  There is currently no cure so only supportive treatment and close monitoring of the condition can help with the frequent injuries and pain that develop.

Seanin’s fragile health has suffered many setbacks in the last few years and she has been hospitalised countless times. Throughout it all she has maintained her sunny smile and positive outlook and, with the help of her devoted family, is committed to raising the profile of EDS and other rare conditions so that help and treatment may be sought for sufferers worldwide. Her bravery in overcoming such adversity also earned her a Spirit of Northern Ireland Award last year.

Despite medical setbacks, the inspirational young woman has gained a 2:1 in her Dietetics Degree in addition to receiving the top student accolade from the University of Ulster at Jordanstown.

In a celebratory post on her facebook page, Seanin sums up just how mammoth a task gaining her degree has been,

“5 years of Uni, 2 semesters out, 10 hospitalisations later and I’ve finally done it… I’ve finished my degree!

“After many people and many docs didn’t think I would,  but I’ve done it finally and loved every minute of it!”

The First Trust Convocation Student of the Year Award is made to an undergraduate student who, has demonstrated “Significant personal achievement or a substantial contribution to the life of the University, its students or the community.” One of the criteria for the winning student involves “overcoming a disability or personal adversity which allowed him/her to become a role model for other students or made a contribution to improving the opportunities for students with a disability to achieve their personal objectives.”

With Seanin continuously demonstrating her achievement in this area, she is certainly a fitting recipient for the prestigious award and as her fight against her condition continues to capture the hearts and minds of everyone in her local community and beyond, her latest accolade is further inspiration for her fellow EDS suffers that anything is possible in the face of such adversity.

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