School of Health & Society 25.07.21

GRADUATION 2020: Juggling midwifery and motherhood – double award-nominee Melissa graduates

Melissa Connelly (pictured) was already studying at the University of Salford when she changed to the undergraduate Midwifery course. She became pregnant with her son, Alexander, in the final year of her Counselling and Psychotherapy course. The care she received from midwives in hospital inspired her to pursue a new career path. 

Melissa Connelly

"Midwifery and counselling are similar in so many ways. When I started going to my antenatal appointments and interacting with the midwives I thought, “this is a really interesting career that I hadn’t considered,” Melissa explained.

Being a full-time mum to Alexander, who has special needs, while studying course hasn’t been easy. Melissa has had to balance her son’s physiotherapy, speech and language and occupational therapy appointments alongside lectures, assignments and placements. 

Melissa’s cohort was also the first year to be affected by bursary cuts. 

But Melissa treats being at university and studying something she loves as ‘me time.’ 

“It’s worth it and it’s doable. I’ve never had to have any extensions and I’ve got a first in all of my academic work.”

Her hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed - Melissa has been nominated for two awards: one at the Northern Maternity and Midwifery Festival and in the Student Midwife of the Year category at the Times Higher Education Awards. 

The coronavirus didn’t stop Melissa either, as she, along with her cohort, opted to take on paid placements to support the NHS during the pandemic. She has been working at the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust. 

Melissa not only has a strong family support network, but has made good friends on her course, who understand the difficulties that student midwives face. 

She said: “It’s lovely to have all these girls I can speak to about things that happen on placement, that my family at home wouldn’t understand. I’ve made friends for life now, without a doubt.” 

In September, Melissa will embark on her MSc in Midwifery, continuing her studies at the University of Salford. She has also been offered a job as a midwife Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, so will be working part time alongside her degree. 

“I’m really pleased!” Melissa said. “Eventually, I’d love to specialise in perinatal mental health. That’s why I want to do my master’s and keep developing that level of knowledge, while still being in practice and gaining experience.”