BA (Honours) Business Studies, Class of 1993
Kate has recovered from a severe stroke with Locked In Syndrome to become an internationally acclaimed speaker, writer and advocate.
What happened after I graduated
'I worked in various roles after I left Sheffield Hallam including information officer for the civil service and sales manager for Walkers Crisps. I also worked in South East Asia, ran my own childcare agency and later set up a marketing company. It was whilst I was running that business that my world got turned upside down.
'I'd been complaining of migraines for a while when I had a massive stroke caused by a blood clot to my brain stem. I woke up in hospital fully aware of what was going on but not able to speak or move at all. It turned out I had Locked In Syndrome. The doctors gave me a 50/50 chance of surviving and said I'd never regain anything approaching normal life. For a long time I could only communicate with my eyelids but eventually I was able to talk again and eight months after collapsing I defied all odds by walking off the ward.
'Since then I've set up Fighting Strokes, a registered charity that gives help and support to people whose lives have been affected by strokes with the aim of improving a patient’s progress and quality of life. I've also become an internationally renowned after dinner and keynote speaker and written three books - Running Free, Gonna Fly Now! and I Am Still The Same. In 2011 I was named Extraordinary Woman of the Year.'
What my job involves
'My life is a rollercoaster these days. One day I could be giving a keynote speech to a room full of delegates, the next I could be filming a documentary or helping people who are currently experiencing Locked In Syndrome. Since getting out of hospital I've championed the use of electrical stimulation in the recovery of stroke victims. I think this treatment really helped me and I've led a team that has secured a £250,000 research grant from Research For Patient Benefit to conduct a feasibility study on its use. I've also made tons of media appearances and in 2012 I was invited by the Deputy Prime Minister to be a VIP guest at the opening ceremony of the Olympics.'
How Sheffield Hallam helped me
'The Business Studies course at Hallam gave me a fantastic grounding in the world of business. More importantly, my time at the University taught me to rely on myself and grounded me with the foundations of determination and hard work I use now on a daily basis.'
A word to the wise
'Dream big and work damn hard.'
'In the future I'd like to secure the funding that would facilitate a psychological research project, design a practical stroke recovery app and be a good Mum to my three kids.'