Model student who has raised awareness of chronic illnesses celebrates graduating from Queen’s
Nicole Ewart (aged 22) from Dromore, Co. Down, will today (Monday 19 July) graduate with a (BA Hons) English and Sociology from the School of Arts, English and Languages at Queen’s.
Nicole, who is currently the national title holder of the Face of Northern Ireland, was diagnosed with chronic migraines when she was 16 years old and has suffered with the invisible chronic illness her entire life.
Nicole said: “Unlike a regular migraine, I suffer from a migraine every day, varying in intensity from mild to totally debilitating. For years I was unable to do anything because of my illness, but since being diagnosed and having treatment I feel I can live life to the full again. I still do have bad days, but I want to prove that health conditions should not stop you from doing anything you set your mind to.
“Since being crowned as Face of Europe and the World (FOEW) Northern Ireland, I have used my title to advocate for awareness of invisible illnesses, as I am a disabled student. Throughout my time at Queen’s, I have been the Public Relations Officer for ‘QUB Inclusion’, a society that makes friendships more accessible for students with chronic illnesses, disabilities and those who are neurodiverse. We have built upon the support provided by Disability Services at Queen’s, which personally helped me throughout my time at university, to create a unique society formed around disabled students on campus.
“In our first year running as a society we won the ‘Championing Well-being’ Award at the Queen’s Students’ Union Awards, highlighting the success of our society and the increased inclusivity we have helped to form for disabled students. It has been such a privilege to watch our society grow and to see the increase in inclusivity on campus.”
Nicole has been participating in pageants since she was 16 after being scouted at a charity fashion show. Since 2016, she has won two national titles and placed as second runner-up at internationals in 2019, winning the title of FOEW Ms International. She is currently waiting to represent Northern Ireland at the international finals of FOEW International Pageants, in Disneyland Paris in 2022.
She said: “Throughout my time as Queen of FOEW NI, I have raised over £3,000 for our three chosen charities: The Children’s Heartbeat Trust, the NHS, and Headway. I’ve also been able to help a lot more local charities and businesses with appearances and separate fundraising, despite the challenges of the pandemic.”
Speaking about graduating, Nicole said: “It feels bittersweet to be graduating. I have loved my undergraduate degree, the content we studied and the friends I have made along the way, despite the challenges of COVID-19. I loved my time at Queen’s so much I reapplied and was successful in confirming my place on a postgraduate course, and I am so excited to start again in September.
“Although we are not able to graduate in the traditional way, due to the ongoing pandemic, I am not going to let this stop me from enjoying my graduation day and my achievements. I am planning on watching the virtual graduation ceremony with my family at home, and then head out for a meal to celebrate.”
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