CELEBRATIONS will get under way today at St Mary's Stadium for students graduating from the University of Southampton, but their Covid hit journeys have not always been easy. 

Studying during the pandemic meant that their university experience changed dramatically and took them on unexpected journeys. 

Three graduates have shared their stories with their Daily Echo.

READ MORE: My dentist stole my smile claims Eastleigh woman awarded £17,500 out  of court

Sherif Attia, aged 23, found studying far from home in Egypt during the pandemic added to the usual study stress.

The electronic engineering graduate said: "I questioned everything, should I continue on my course, should I return to campus and face-to-face teaching, or stay at home with my parents who were worried about me returning."

He returned to better work on team projects but was forced to miss his grandmother's funeral in red-listed Egypt.

Daily Echo:

23-year-old Zoe Chapple is the Vice President for activities at the university's student union.

Remembering a move to online in her third year studying biomedical sciences, she said: "Everything felt really lonely, with my housemates being home for half of the year. It was isolating. Not being able to see my friends or family made me feel like my routine was sleep, eat, uni work."

Because of the impact of Coronavirus, Zoe became more involved with RAG (Raise and Give), the lead fundraising society on campus and is now reconsidering her career prospects, perhaps a postgraduate medicine course or going into the charity sector.

Daily Echo:

Most students start their course, and three or four years later, graduate.

For 25-year-old Zemzem Sonmez it wasn't as straightforward, and Covid complicated it further.

She started her course in chemistry in 2016, but after being unwell and unable to study for several years, she graduated in 2021. 

When the university went into the first lockdown in 2020, Zemzem felt isolated: "I was living by myself in a house that should have housed six others, who, unlike me, had the option to return home." 

Daily Echo:

She used this period to find something she could do that would benefit others and, as part of a virtual global collaboration, designed and engineered a project to help those with dementia.

Zemzem is now running a local project called SO: Let's Connect, helping members of the community reconnect.

For more information, visit www.soletsconnect.co.uk.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article - we appreciate your support in reading the Daily Echo.

Subscribing to the Echo means you have unrestricted access to the latest news, features and Saints coverage - all with an advertising-light website.

You will also have full access to Saintsplus, your new home for Southampton FC tactical analysis, features and much, much more.

Don't take my word for it - subscribe here to see for yourself.

Follow the latest breaking news in the Southampton area by joining our Facebook group - Southampton News - Breaking News and Incidents

Follow the latest court and crime news on our dedicated Facebook group - Hampshire Court and Crime News