Natalie secures business degree despite mystery blackouts

New graduate praises University support measures

Date posted

16 July 2020


A student who almost dropped out of university after a series of mystery collapses is today celebrating completing her Edinburgh Napier degree at the same time as her classmates. 

Natalie Dunsmore’s health woes emerged when as a second year she blacked out while on a sunshine break in Cyprus.

Natalie pictured outside the Egg at Craiglockhart with her graduation scroll 

Many more episodes followed, including periods when Natalie collapsed every two or three days, once in front of a class at a lecture.

On another occasion she blacked out on the day of an exam, but still managed to complete the paper after being checked over by an ambulance crew.

However, her ill health was taking its toll, leaving her wondering if she would ever complete her studies.

“I decided close to the end of third year that I was going to give up university,” said Natalie, 21, of Harthill, Lanarkshire.  “I felt as if I was a hassle to everyone, and decided it was easier to drop out.

“But the University pushed me on and told me I could do it. They had already put in place a buddy system for me, meaning someone from my year was with me at all times on campus.

Natalie pictured outside the Egg at Craiglockhart with graduation scroll

They also gave me a medical pass with first aid instructions on a lanyard, and allowed me to use a separate exam room and have extra time if needed.

“The University couldn’t have done any more for me to ensure I felt safe on campus.

“Despite missing most of fourth year due to being unwell in hospital I finally got diagnosed with epilepsy, and I managed to hand in my dissertation and complete fourth year normally alongside my peers.  Looking back I’m so glad I stuck with it and pushed on.”

Natalie is now the proud holder of a BA (Hons) in Business Management.

She said: “Whatever problems people come across, there are always routes you can take to what you want to achieve. I had many low times when I thought dropping out was my best option, but I have overcome this and now have a degree after suffering terribly for three years of my course.”

Natalie now hopes to go on and do a Professional Graduate Diploma in Business Education with a view to taking up a teaching role.

Dr Mike Sanderson, lecturer in Human Resource Management and Disability Contact for the Business School, said: “The staff at Edinburgh Napier University have been extremely impressed by Natalie's determination to complete her studies in the face of many health difficulties.

“As an institution we are highly student-focused, and will leave no stone unturned to explore ways in which we can support students through their studies.

“We are delighted for Natalie and congratulate her on this great achievement.  She is an inspiration to us all.”

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