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Remarkable student disabled during degree celebrates graduating with Master’s from Queen’s

Aoibhinn Loughlin, aged 29 and originally from Derry City but now lives in Dublin, is graduating with a Master’s (MSc) in Management with Distinction from Queen’s Management School.

Aoibhinn, who already has a medical degree from Trinity College Dublin, was delighted when she was accepted to Queen’s to study for her Master’s degree.  

“I began my course in September 2020, thrilled to have been accepted and eager to get going. Having studied Medicine as my undergraduate degree, business management was a new topic to me and I threw myself into it. Despite everything being online as it was the height of the pandemic, I loved my course and getting to know the other students and my lecturers (online at least). I was also performing well, achieving distinction level in most of my assignments and examinations,” said Aoibhinn. 

It was during an online lecture in January 2021 when Aoibhinn fell ill and lost the power to walk. She was admitted to hospital with a severe COVID-19 infection, despite being perfectly healthy beforehand with no underlying conditions that she was aware of 

She said: “I spent the next four months in bed, only able to leave to use the bathroom, which was a massive effort. I continued to attend online lectures during this time from my bed, and this is what kept me going. Continuing to study for my Master’s was my only sense of normality and achievement as even the simplest of tasks were now difficult for me. 

Eventually I received diagnoses of Post Covid Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) a year following initial infection. ME is a chronic illness that affects both the neurological and immune systems, and POTS is a blood circulation disorder characterised by symptoms when in the upright position and inappropriately increased heart rate.” 

Due to her condition, Aoibhinn now uses a wheelchair and mobility scooter to help her get around.  

“I have been using a mobility scooter for a year and a wheelchair for two. My mobility and health have been slowly improving since I started treatment last year and now I can walk around 200m on a good day, but still very little on a bad day. However, the bad days are thankfully becoming less frequent as time goes on,” she said.  

Speaking about the support she received, she commented: “The genuine empathy, drive, and willingness from the staff at Queen’s to make it possible for me to continue my studies meant so much. I received multiple one-to-one sessions with my final project supervisor to track my progress alongside my health, flexibility with deadlines, and guidance from the University’s disability service on applying for disabled students' allowance for technology to help me study.” 

Despite all of the challenges she faced, Aoibhinn is graduating with her Master’s in Management with distinction, and she is also the winner of the Randox Award for highest result in Marketing.  

Looking ahead to her graduation day and to the future, Aoibhinn said: “I could not be prouder to be graduating this month. There were times my health was so poor that graduation felt like such a far-off dream. It is hard to believe it’s actually happening, and even harder to believe that I was able to maintain my distinction until the end! It would not have happened without the support I received from Queen’s to help me manage my studies alongside my new disability. 

“At present I am taking some time off to rest and focus on my health, and I have secured graduate employment beginning in September this year.” 

For more information about studying for a Master’s in Management at Queen’s, please visit:  


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