Search

Mum-of-five who helped son fight brain cancer graduates with first class degree

PUBLISHED: 14:00 28 October 2017

Rita Edokpayi

Rita Edokpayi

UEL

As a single mum to five children, studying for a university degree was never going to be easy.

Rita Edokpayi with Joshua, centre, and her other children Rita Edokpayi with Joshua, centre, and her other children

But for Rita Edokpayi, who is graduating from the University of East London with a first class degree, the challenge was made even harder when her four-year-old son was diagnosed with brain cancer.

The 48-year-old’s journey to passing her course been a long one - but one she hopes will inspire others.

Growing up in Nigeria, she was not encouraged to get an education. She married in her early 20s and had two children, moving to Italy a few years later with the help of a cousin when her husband died.

Whilst there she remarried and had three more children, and in 2011 the family moved to Dagenham.

When the time came to enrol her youngest children, twins Joshua and Jesse, into nursery school, Rita said she “couldn’t let them go” and decided to do a childcare qualification.

She did so well that in 2013 she decided to enrol in UEL’s New Beginnings programme that allows students with non-traditional backgrounds to progress to a degree.

But two months in, Joshua was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. Rita dropped out of the course and in January 2014, she and Joshua moved to Oklahoma for three months so he could receive proton beam therapy.

Once home, Rita sought to return to university and joined UEL’s early childhood education programme in September 2014 - but the following January, Joshua’s cancer returned.

Rita, who is also an ordained minister and youth pastor at House of Favour Church in Forest Hill, south London, admitted she would likely have dropped out of her course had she not enjoyed it so much. She would often take her books to the hospital and study while Joshua was healing.

“The situation with my son actually helped me with my education,” she said.

“That was the only way I could get myself distracted from what was happening around me.

“Coming to uni was something that gave me joy. Uni, for me, at that time, was a place that I could feel useful apart from the church.”

Rita has now embarked on a master’s degree at UEL in special educational needs, while Joshua, called a “miracle” by his mum, is now a happy and healthy eight-year-old doing well at school.

1 comment

  • I remember Rita during a sociology module in our first year, she inspired me when she shared her son's situation. I was motivated to allow my son who was experiencing a condition described as Autism spectrum to be diagnosed. Beforehand, I was ashamed of the label. He is now getting necessary support with his education

    Report this comment

    Lillian Oluwi

    Sunday, November 5, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Latest Barking and Dagenham News Stories

08:00

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Post readers this week.

Yesterday, 15:00

If you’re planning to visit loved ones over the Christmas period, you might want to think twice about using public transport.

Yesterday, 10:00

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our three-minute Met Office video forecast.

Yesterday, 09:00

Barking and Dagenham College are gearing up to represent the borough in a televised London-wide float parade on New Year’s Day.

Fri, 17:35

A Dagenham-based charity has been holding parties this week for elderly residents over the festive period.

Fri, 15:58

A Dagenham teenager has been jailed for a brutal stabbing that led his 18-year-old victim to lose his leg and suffer horrific injuries.

Fri, 15:44

The grandfather of a three-year-old girl from Barking thought to have been abducted by her mother has made an appeal for help in finding her.

Fri, 15:41

A new not-for-profit company jointly owned by local schools and the council has appointed a chief executive.

PROMOTED CONTENT

The festive season is a hectic time for many, with frenzied dashes to the shops for groceries and gifts, and parties to arrange and attend.

You don’t have to make the trek to the North Pole to get into the Christmas spirit this year.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Barking and Dagenham Post
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now