AWARDS 2011: Beloved Father Inspiration For Courageous Tina

10 January 2011

Tina Premjee and parents

Tina (centre) celebrating her 21st birthday with her late father Narendra and mum Indira.

Brave Tina Premjee says that what should be one of the happiest days of her life will be an extremely difficult occasion for her and her family.

The 23-year-old graduates at the University's annual Awards Ceremonies on January 22 with a BA (Hons) in Applied Social Work. But sadly, she will have to graduate without her beloved late father, who died suddenly last February.

However, she says her dad Narendra will be looking down as she walks across the stage to collect her degree certificate, and the rest of her family will be in the audience to watch her wonderful achievement.

On 6 February last year, Tina's father Narendra died suddenly and unexpectedly in his sleep. In the two years before his death, Narendra was the main carer to his wife Indira, who was unwell.

His death has left the whole family devastated but they are all supporting each other during this time. As well as her mother Indira; Tina has two brothers: Sailesh, 33, and Chirag, 18, two sisters: Sachna, 26, Chaiya, 19, and a boyfriend Rajeev. All are planning to travel to Derby for the Awards Ceremonies.

Following Narendra's death and subsequent loss of Tina's grandmother in May, they relocated as a family from their home in Rushey Mead, Leicester, to the Bewbush area of Crawley in Sussex to begin to rebuild their lives. Tina has now secured a full-time social services post within the Children and Disabilities Team for Surrey County Council.

Tina said: "Following Dad's death, despite everything that we had to deal with, I somehow found the strength to keep going and finish my studies. I had two assignments and my dissertation to complete but was determined to finish as it was what Dad would have wanted."

Tina's final dissertation focussed on the emotional impact of living with domestic violence on young children as they grow into adulthood, with her key finding that everyone is unique and problems can arise in a myriad of different ways from a turbulent childhood.

During her three-year course, she took part in three placements in a range of social care settings including with Derbyshire Positive Support, Surestart Children's Centre in Nottingham and the Community Mental Health team in Leicester.

She graduates with a 2:2 degree and will also receive a special University award, the Sally Stepanian prize, for excellence in practice and for her courage in overcoming adversity.

Culturally, from her dad's side of the family, she is the first person to go to University. Narendra had been a printer and retail worker, and the family was cautious about higher education, but Tina was able to demonstrate her achievements in social care while studying at Leicester College as a sixth-former. As a result, her decision to pursue her higher education dream had her family and parents' full support and they were extremely proud of her.

Tina added: "My niece Diyani was born a month after Dad's death which gave the family strength. However, the bereavement has been difficult for us all and I have just wanted to support the rest of the family. Graduation should be a happy time but we know it will be difficult as the pillar of our family will obviously not be there in person.

"But I know Dad was proud of me and he will be looking down from above as I graduate on the day which gives me comfort."

Tina's tutor Fran Fuller, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Applied Social Work, at the University of Derby, said: "Tina has been inspirational in her determination and courage particularly in the later part of her final year.

"She has succeeded in achieving what for many students would have been an impossible task, but Tina remained positive and strong while supporting her family at the same time. We are proud to see such a competent student obtain her degree and hopefully go on to enjoy her career in social work."

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