Inspirational student Keri one in a million

Number One: Keri Chambers who has received a first class maths degree from Sheffield Hallam University, despite having Wolfram syndrome.AN INSPIRATIONAL Sheffield student has been awarded an incredible first-class degree in maths – overcoming difficulties few others could contemplate.

Keri Chambers, aged 24, is completely blind, partially deaf and has two kinds of diabetes.

But the Sheffield Hallam University student was determined her difficulties would not stop her achieving the very best in the subject she loves.

Watched by her proud family, Keri put on her graduation robes and received her top-grade degree in a ceremony at Sheffield City Hall.

Mum Ruth Chambers, who were there with dad Mark, brother Alex and grandad Brian, said: “We are absolutely amazed. Not amazed that she could do it, but amazed that she got through it.

“We are so pleased that she succeeded in what she wanted to do. Even as an eight-year-old girl Keri was determined she would go to university.

“When the results letter came my hands were shaking. Keri needed me to read her the letter but it took me a few moments to open the envelope!”

Like her older brother Alex, 26, Keri has Wolfram syndrome – or DIDMOAD – which affects just one in 770,000 of the UK population.

The syndrome means she is completely blind, partially deaf and has to cope with diabetes mellitus, which affects her blood sugar, and diabetes insipidus, which affects her hydration levels.

To help get her through her degree, lecturers transcribed course notes into Braille and provided one-to-one tuition to explain the more visual elements of her course. She also had a personal note-taker and extra time in exams.

Keri, who for four years commuted to Sheffield every day from her home in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, said: “The staff were all really helpful. When I started they didn’t have the Braille facilities ready, and I had to temporarily withdraw and start again the following year. But after that they were brilliant. They helped me though everything.”

Hallam maths lecturer Erik Baxter said Keri’s work ethic won her many fans on campus.

He said: “Keri’s story proves what people with disabilities are capable of if given the opportunity.

“She really is a wonder, she has such a good attitude about everything – all the lecturers loved her.

“She has had such difficulties but she was a pleasure to teach because she really has a love for the subject – it is truly inspiring. At Sheffield Hallam University we want to get more disabled people into education, and it would be a great shame if educational reforms meant others do not get the opportunities Keri has.”

Keri has her degree but she has not stopped working – and is determined to help others achieve.

“I’m doing volunteering work, helping out at primary school to teach Braille and maths.

“I just like helping people and I’m hoping to get a permanent job teaching.”

Jo Johnson, marketing manager at Deafblind UK, said Keri’s success was truly remarkable.

“To achieve a first-class degree is a massive achievement.

“A deaf blind student has to cope with such large challenges every day.
Concentration is a big issue – taking in all that information using alternative communication techniques can be very tiring. Everyday tasks can be exhausting, even getting up in the morning and finding the way around campus. Everything is so much harder.

“What Keri has achieved is quite remarkable


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