AWARDS 2011: Sarabjit's Struggle To Get Onto Write Path
Date posted: 20 January 2011
A woman who has written movingly about the degenerative muscular condition which leaves her unable to even smile will graduate from the University of Derby tomorrow Friday 21 January.
Writer Sarabjit Parmar, 27, from Leicester, will graduate from the University at its ceremony at the Derby Assembly Rooms with a Joint Honours degree in Media Writing and Creative Writing. She and fellow student Kimberley Ellis will deliver the official student 'vote of thanks' for their faculty before their graduation ceremony.
Sarabjit has had facioscapulohumeral (FSH) muscular dystrophy from childhood. The genetic condition causes a progressive weakening of skeletal muscles in the face, shoulders and upper arms. In Britain it affects at least one person in every 50,000 to varying degrees.
In Sarabjit's case it means she is a permanent wheelchair user, has difficulty speaking and cannot smile.
She has written eloquently about her experiences of living with FSH muscular dystrophy and people's reactions to disability generally in a range of publications, including The Guardian newspaper in 2009, and on other subjects.
Sarabjit said: "Three years ago I had awfully big doubts about committing myself to a university course; where to go, what to study and so on.
"After much consideration I finally decided that Derby offered me what I needed if I was going to make writing my career. Looking back, that was the best decision and I'm extremely grateful to all those who have helped me since those first few anxious days."
Sarabjit has used her life experiences to inform her studies, writing a final year dissertation for her degree on the way that disability is portrayed in the fashion and modelling industry.
"I may be disabled myself but even I was surprised at how much I really didn't know about disability representation. It really has been a learning curve," she added.
Sarabjit now wants to use what she has learnt on her degree course to make a living as a freelance writer.
Colin Dyter, Subject Leader for Joint Honours Media Writing at the University of Derby, said: "Sarabjit is a very determined student who has overcome enormous difficulties to successfully complete her degree. I'm sure she will do well in her writing career in future."
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