A determined student who enrolled on a university degree course despite battling throat cancer has passed away just weeks after graduating.
Inspirational Dennis Newlove achieved a 2:1 after bravely completing his studies and writing his dissertation about his terminal illness.
The 28-year-old even had his own private graduation ceremony in a hospice after finishing his health studies and social care course at the University of Northampton.
Dennis enrolled on the course in 2014 after being diagnosed but was admitted to Cynthia Spencer Hospice in June when the cancer spread.
Fearing that he would not be able to attend the main graduation ceremony on July 20, the student’s lecturers organised a private presentation for him on June 18.
During the ceremony, Dennis was handed a degree certificate, along with a leather-bound copy of his dissertation, which was about his condition.
The ceremony was overseen by four academics from the university’s Faculty of Health and Society and was attended by proud family and friends.
Tragically, Dennis passed away on July 22 – just weeks after achieving his life-time ambition.
Tributes have since been paid to the “amazing”, “tenacious” and “determined” student, who was originally from Ghana.
Sindy Banga, a senior health lecturer at the University of Northampton, said: “Dennis’s strength and upbeat spirit was present right until the end.
“He is an inspiration and a teacher to us all.
“He showed determination, resilience, hope, patience and positivity in the face of multiple adversities.
“Such admirable qualities in a young man have touched everyone who knew Dennis, and will serve to guide us through difficult times in our own lives.
“I saw him straight after what would have been his graduation day on July 20, at Cynthia Spencer Hospice with a few graduation gifts from a collection, including a T-shirt with all graduates’ names printed on it, and a small graduation teddy bear.
“When I left him he was hugging and kissing his teddy and smiling.”
After receiving his certificate, Dennis 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.
“The staff [at the hospice] are more than a family.
“They have shown a lot of competence and passion in everything they do – in fact, I don’t even want to go home.”
Following the ceremony, Dennis’ close friend Leticia Asumang 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.
“Where he gets it from, I don’t know. It amazes me.
“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.”
Hospice matron Gail Oliver added: “We’ve had weddings, birthday parties and early Christmas celebrations for our patients, but this is the first graduation at the hospice.
“We had a couple of days’ notice it was happening and everybody pulled out all the stops to organise the ceremony.
“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.”
Ward sister Lorna Mair, said: “All of us have been overwhelmed by the ceremony, it’s been such a happy occasion.
“Dennis has worked so hard for this, he’s been so strong, he’s simply an amazing man.”