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 childrenRita 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.

Latest Barking and Dagenham Stories

44 minutes ago

Alistair Coleman, author of the hit book Angry People in Local Newspapers, has been speaking with Layth Yousif about the cult publication about to reach the bestsellers lists...

16:00

Defender set to come against former club as Essex club make trip south of the Thames in FA Trophy

14:00

Barking manager Justin Gardner is expecting another uncomfortable experience as his side make the trip to what he describes as the ‘Lions Den’.

13:00

West Ham United chase an unprecedented fourth straight win in the Premier League when they visit struggling Fulham on Saturday.

Whether visiting friends and family or going for that bargain in the sales, the rail network helps a lot of people to get around over the festive period.

Three members of the same family are facing possible jail for having Islamic State (IS) propaganda.

14:00

The council’s purchase of land in a flood zone is ‘possibly just the beginning’ of a spending spree.

12:45

A married couple running an off-licence caught with smuggled goods and selling alcohol to a minor have been fined more than £11,520.

PROMOTED CONTENT

The Exchange in Ilford has added a state-of-the-art, Savannah-themed play area, with hand painted animal sculptures, to its brand new family zone, designed by American creative agency Playtime

Are you aged over 25 and an unpaid carer? If you want to return to employment but need practical help and support to get there, Working for Carers can help.

Everest Estates stress-free service guarantees a fixed income for your East London or Essex property every month, even if no one is currently living there. Here they talk about the scheme and explain how it can help you dodge common letting headaches.

Newsletter Sign Up

Barking and Dagenham Post twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

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