Northampton hospice plays host to determined Dennis at emotional private graduation ceremony

Dennis Newlove, 28, with his 2:1 degree certificate in Health Studies and Social Care.
Dennis Newlove, 28, with his 2:1 degree certificate in Health Studies and Social Care.

A terminally-ill student from the University of Northampton has had his own private degree graduation ceremony in the hospice where he is being cared for.

Dennis Newlove, 28, was surrounded by friends, family and nursing staff as he was presented with his degree in a moving ceremony at Northampton’s Cynthia Spencer Hospice, in Kettering Road, on June 18.

When he was admitted to the hospice earlier this month, the university organised a private graduation rather than wait for July's main ceremony.

Dennis, who originally comes from Ghana, said: “There cannot be an exact expression to describe how I feel today. Today is the best, and the beginning of the best to come.

“Studying for this degree has been very challenging, considering my health, but the University has proved to me that any challenge can be beaten.”

Dennis enrolled in the Health Studies and Social Care course sometime after being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014. Dennis has battled the disease throughout his three years on campus.

Close friend Leticia Asumang, who met Dennis at the Victory Bible Church International, in Far Cotton, was by his side at the graduation.

She said: “I am not surprised at all that Dennis completed his degree, even though it was tough. His tenacity and his relentless drive is incredible.

“I have never known a more positive person than Dennis. When I’m down, he lifts me up.

“He is so inspirational, in the way he talks about his faith and his understanding of what life is all about. His attitude seems beyond his young age.”

During the ceremony, Dennis, who achieved a 2:1 grade, was presented with a leather-bound copy of his dissertation, which was written about his condition.

Hospice matron, Gail Oliver, said: “We’ve had weddings, birthday parties and early Christmas celebrations for our patients, but this is the first graduation at the hospice.

“It’s been a very special day, and we all feel privileged to have been a part of it. For Dennis to have achieved his degree is amazing, and is testament to his incredible strength and determination.”

A quartet of university academics from the faculty of health and society oversaw the official graduation proceedings, including senior academic manager Sue Donnelly, senior lecturers Sindy Banga and Monica Catelinet, and lecturer Melinda Spencer.

Sindy Banga said in a speech at the ceremony: "We, your tutors, would like to say that it has been an absolute privilege and pleasure to work with you and get to know you.

“We are all proud of you, beyond words. Very well done.”

Dennis vowed he was determined to attend graduation on Thursday 20 July.

For more information on the Cynthia Spencer Hospice, visit their website.