Skip to Content

Featured Research

Andrea overcomes the odds to land dream job as a nurse

Andrea is delighted to graduate today (Tuesday 5 July) and to pursue her dream job.

Andrea is celebrating graduating with a degree in Nursing. Pictured with husband Cathal, daughter Roisin (9) and son Brendan (13).

Andrea Breen, (43), from the Philippines, always wanted to be a nurse. She arrived to Northern Ireland in 2004 and worked in administration and as a care assistant before enrolling at Queen’s as a mature student. She began her degree in 2019 but her path to pursue her dream job has not been easy.   

During a placement in her first year, she received the devastating news that her mum had lung cancer. The next few months were extremely difficult for Andrea, travelling back and forth from NI to the Philippines with her two young children trying to continue her studies whilst supporting her mum. Shortly after receiving the news, sadly her mum passed away. Returning to Northern Ireland, Andrea pushed on and finished her first year.  

Working in a cancer unit during her second year placement was challenging for Andrea, who had lost both her parents to cancer. Andrea also found a lump on her breast. Whilst anxiously waiting for the results, which thankfully showed the tumour to be benign, she was made even more aware of how important her vocation to become a nurse was to support people dealing with difficult health issues. She was also grateful to receive support from her tutors who granted her an extension on her assessment.  

Andrea and her family faced uncertainty during the pandemic with her husband facing the threat of losing his job and home-schooling her two children while trying to study full-time and work part-time. She was close to quitting her degree so she could work full-time to support her family but also knew how far she had come and how close to pursuing her dream job.  

Andrea is delighted to be graduating and has a job as a nurse at Craigavon hospital. She said: “With all the struggles I have been through and overcome, I know that my parents are both proud of what I have achieved and so as my whole family. I still cannot believe that I have finished my degree looking back on what I have gone through."


Media enquiries to