Tuesday 26 September 2017

Cambridge student, 33, gets First after sitting exams 28 hours after giving birth

Isobel Cohen with her new baby daughter Beatrice Photo: Geoff Robinson
Isobel Cohen with her new baby daughter Beatrice Photo: Geoff Robinson

Telegraph reporters

A CAMBRIDGE University student has graduated with first class honours after sitting her final exams just 28 hours after giving birth.





Isobel Cohen, 33, had to leave newborn daughter Beatrice in intensive care while she sat her practical criticism paper in her dressing gown and slippers at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.



She then completed her Shakespeare and the Greek tragedies exam the next day in the hospital.



On Saturday Isobel graduated with a first class honours degree in English from Cambridge University's Lucy Cavendish College.



She admitted giving birth and sitting her finals in the same week was "slightly insane".



She said: "I wonder how I held it together and got through them because now I'm into full-blown 'nappy brain' and can't get anything out of my head.



"While my concentration and memory were not as good as they have been in other circumstances, I could still do things I needed to do and retain enough information to write decent essays.



"At the time it seemed like a perfectly legitimate thing to do but now I look back and think it's slightly insane."



Isobel, a former dancer from Cambridge, turned down the opportunity to study at Cambridge University when she finished her A-levels to pursue a career on the stage.



But she later took up a place to study English at Lucy Cavendish College and completed her studies despite becoming pregnant in her final year.



She was offered the chance to apply for a DDH - 'deemed to have deserved honours' - instead of attempting her exams, but she decided to push ahead.



She had to leave Beatrice in intensive care with a suspected digestive tract disorder to take her exams.



The new mother, who was heavily dosed up on painkillers, sat two of her finals at Addenbrookes' Hospital with her catheter still attached.



Today mother and baby are fit and well and resting at home.



Dr Stephanie Ellington, senior tutor at Lucy Cavendish College, said: "What Isobel has achieved is a phenomenal result - to gain a first class honours on such a tough course, under such remarkable circumstances is truly worthy of applause and a sign of just how far Isobel is likely to go in the future."



Now Ms Cohen plans to pursue her interest in playwriting and spend time with baby Beatrice and husband Ewan Campbell, 28, a PhD composition student.

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