Courageous student graduates in emotional ceremony after treatment for life-threatening illnesses


Shaun Donovan has battled a tumour, sepsis and pneumonia to graduate with a Tourism and Events Management degree from University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Swansea Business School.

Shaun was diagnosed with Craniopharygioma - a rare type of brain tumour derived from pituitary gland embryonic tissue - at the age of 8 and has endured many operations and hospital stays since his diagnosis.

On more than one occasion, his parents were told to prepare for the worst, with doctors fearing Shaun would not survive his exhausting health battles.

The condition, which has caused sight loss issues and short-term memory impairment, forced him to take time away from his studies at school and later at UWTSD’s Faculty of Business and Management. But his efforts have now paid off and he is looking forward to putting his new qualifications into practice.

Shaun said: "It has been a battle to get through everything, but I’m so glad it has all paid off. I’ve spent weeks in hospital in ITU with everyone around me fearing the worst. Being able to finish my degree and graduate at an amazing ceremony at the Brangwyn Hall, was something I never thought I’d experience. And I know my parents feel the same. It was such a proud moment for all of us.”

As part of his degree course, Shaun took part in several field trips, including a visit to London, where students visited Twickenham stadium and The London Stadium in Olympic Park. He also visited Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and the Royal Mint Experience, as well as Big Pit. He also carried out research for a project about Newport's transporter bridge.

"The field trips were invaluable, giving me life experience in my chosen areas of interest,” he added. “It’s made me realise I absolutely want to work in event management and I’m looking at what opportunities there are locally.

"The support I received from my lecturers at UWTSD including Jacqui Jones was first rate. Nothing was too much trouble. Everyone understood the health battles that I was facing and did everything they could to help me. I had incredible support from day one, and I can’t thank the university enough for that.”

UWTSD’s Jacqui Jones, Programme Director for The International Travel, Tourism and Leisure Management Portfolio said: “Shaun’s degree was an amazing personal achievement as he has battled very serious ill health during his studies, however his determination to succeed was so strong. It was very emotional watching him on the stage at Graduation, as at times we really feared that he wouldn’t be with us to celebrate. It has been a pleasure to support Shaun through his studies and watch him develop and progress academically, perhaps the biggest achievement was gaining a 1st class mark in his final assignment!  Every Industry visit Shaun enjoyed and always did his best to make the most of all the opportunities that the programme offered including trips to London and even going down Big Pit! Shaun’s studies in Tourism and Events Management have allowed him to make the most of all opportunities and I wish him all the very best for the future.”

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Tel: 01792 483695
Mobile: 07384 467071