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Rise and shine for Linda

PUBLISHED: 11:40 27 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:38 05 July 2010

Question: How does a busy mum of 12-year-old twins who also works full time manage to graduate with first- class honours and win an award for her achievements?

Answer: A lot of support from her family, friends and employers, not to mention getting up at 4am every day.

Question: How does a busy mum of 12-year-old twins who also works full time manage to graduate with first- class honours and win an award for her achievements?

Answer: A lot of support from her family, friends and employers, not to mention getting up at 4am every day.

For Linda Cox, those early starts, when the house was quiet and she had time to herself, were essential.

But she also admits that, without support from family, fellow students and colleagues at the school where she works, she would not have been able to do it. And it was with that in mind that 38-year-old Mrs Cox, from Lowestoft, graduated along with more than 700 students from City College Norwich on Saturday.

“It was a fabulous day, though nerve-wracking,” she said. “I looked at my mum and dad's faces and saw how proud they were of me and I thought: 'I am not proud for myself but for everyone who supported me through this.'”

Mrs Cox not only came away from the ceremony at Norwich Cathedral with a BA (Honours) degree in inclusive practice in education but was named the college's higher education student of the year as recognition for her hard work and commitment. She said: “I used to get up at 4am and go to bed when the children went to bed at 8.30pm. It meant I could work for three hours in the peace and quiet.”

Before giving birth to James and Rebecca, Mrs Cox worked on an IT help desk, but when the children started school she began as a parent helper and was given a chance by the head at The Poplars Primary School in Lowestoft to take this further and become a teaching assistant.

“I went from computers to people and discovered control, alt and delete doesn't work on children!” she said.

“I really enjoy the variety and the challenge of working with children. No day is ever the same, and at the end of every day someone has achieved something. I like to watch their faces when they realise this.”

In the last year of the three-year course, husband Alan, a systems analyst at Yarmouth Borough Council, took time off at half-term to look after the children and she was able to cut down her hours at work to enable her to get everything done.

“I did some projects based on my experiences in the classroom, obviously keeping the children's identity private. It was very hard work but I was always determined. I had a lot of support from my family and my school and in the end I thought: 'I've got to do it for them,'” said Mrs Cox.

She was presented with £100 for being student of the year which she wants to spend on a piece of jewellery to mark the achievement.

But the studying is not over yet. Mrs Cox explained: “It is heaven not having to study, but I think after I have had a break I would like to go on perhaps to the University of East Anglia and train to be a teacher.”

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