A graduate who completed an honours degree despite suffering from a serious medical condition has been named as the University of the Highlands and Islands' Student of the Year 2017.

Hannah McDiarmid, aged 22, achieved a BA (Hons) in Gaelic language and culture while managing cystic fibrosis - a chronic, life limiting condition which affects the lungs and the digestive systems.

Enrolled as a distance-learning student with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, she completed her degree from her hometown of Torvaig, Portree, on the Isle of Skye.

Hannah was nominated for the award by her programme leader, Mark Wringe. He explained: "As a programme leader and lecturer for some of Hannah's modules, I only saw a capable student who consistently turned in work on time, who always prepared for classes and who achieved good results. She participated in class discussions and answered questions thoughtfully, but didn't draw attention to herself. She just got on with things.

"When she first appeared on a video link from a hospital bed, she carried on in such a matter of fact, nothing to remark on way, I wished her well and didn't ask questions. I took her lead in carrying on as normal, not feeling I should expect her to volunteer information. I have only recently gained an idea of what it must have taken for Hannah to have such a normal, uninterrupted student journey. My respect for her wish to achieve her goal on the same basis as anyone else is enormous. It's ironic that her reliable, regular performance was, in fact, anything but normal."

Lesley Blaikie, a cystic fibrosis nurse specialist with NHS Highlands, is one of the medical team who cares for Hannah. She said: "As an experienced nurse, I have never come across such an inspirational young lady. Despite living a constant battle with severe fatigue and ill health, Hannah always put her study first. Even being admitted to hospital didn't deter her. She would lay books on her bed and have her laptop to hand for dial in sessions. This type of determination did not go unrecognised by medical staff. It has been humbling for us all to see how this young lady has not let her ill health define who she is."

Speaking about her award, Hannah said: "I chose to study Gaelic because I have an interest in languages and, after learning a bit in school, I wanted to carry on and learn more about the culture as well. It's an honour to receive this award, especially as I wasn't brought up speaking Gaelic, and I will always be very thankful to everyone at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, at home and from the cystic fibrosis team for their kind support and encouragement, which has meant so much to me."

Professor Clive Mulholland, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: "Hannah was unanimously selected as our student of the year by all representatives of our judging panel. Her determination and dedication in the face of challenging personal circumstances has been exemplary, showing what can be achieved when you set your mind to it. I am delighted that Hannah has gained an honours degree in a subject she feels passionate about and I wish her every success for the future."

Hannah received a certificate and a cheque for £200 at the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI graduation ceremony on Friday 6 October. Now she has completed her academic studies, she hopes to continue to learn about Gaelic and practise it as much as possible.

Ceumnaiche Gàidhlig sònraichte a' buannachadh tiotal Oileanach na Bliadhna

Tha ceumnaiche a chuir crìoch air ceum le urram a dh'aindeoin a bhith a' fulang le droch shuidheachadh meidigeach, air a h-ainmeachadh mar Oileanach na Bliadhna 2017 aig Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd 's nan Eilean. Choisinn Hannah NicDhiarmaid (22) ceum BA (le Urram) ann an cànan is cultar na Gàidhlig agus i a' dèiligeadh le cystic fibrosis, tinneas buan cuibhreachail a tha a' toirt buaidh air na sgamhanan agus air an t-siostam cnàmhaidh. Clàraichte mar oileanach ag ionnsachadh air astar aig Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, chrìochnaich i a ceum bho a dachaigh ann an Torbhaig, Port Rìgh, san Eilean Sgìtheanach.

Chaidh Hannah ainmeachadh airson na duais seo le stiùiriche a' phrògraim aice, Mark Wringe. Mhìnich esan: "Mar stiùiriche a' phrògraim agus òraidiche cuid de na modalan aig Hannah, chan fhaca mise ach oileanach comasach a bha gu cunbhalach a' cur a-steach a h-obair ann an àm, a bha an-còmhnaidh ullaichte airson clasaichean agus a choilean deagh thoraidhean. Bha i a' com-pàirteachadh ann an deasbadan sa chlas agus a' freagairt cheistean le susbaint, gun a bhith a' tarraing aire thuice fhèin. Bha i dìreach a' dèanamh a dìchill.

"Nuair a nochd i an toiseach air ceangal bhidio bho a leabaidh san ospadal, chùm i a' dol ann an dòigh cho gnothaicheil agus cho nàdarra, agus gun do ghuidh mi soirbheachadh dhi gun cheist sam bith a chur oirre. Lean mi i ann a bhith a' cumail air adhart ann an dòigh àbhaisteach, gun a bhith a' faireachdainn gun robh còir aice fiosrachadh a thoirt dhomh. 'S ann dìreach o chionn ghoirid a tha mi air beachd fhaotainn air an oidhirp a dh'fheumadh Hannah a dhèanamh airson turas oileanaich àbhaisteach a bhith aice gun stad sam bith. Tha làn spèis agam do a miann air a ceann-uidhe a choileanadh air an aon bhunait ris gach neach eile. Tha e iorònach gun robh a gnìomhadh earbsach cunbhalach mar nì sam bith eile ach àbhaisteach."

Is i Lesley Blaikie, banaltram a tha speisealaichte ann an cystic fibrosis le NHS na Gàidhealtachd, aon den sgioba mheidigeach a bhios a' toirt cùram do Hannah. Thuirt i: "Mar bhanaltram aig a bheil làn eòlais, cha tàinig mi a-riamh tarsainn air boireannach òg a tha cho brosnachail rithe. A dh'aindeoin a bhith a' strì gun stad ri sgìths gun lasachadh agus droch shlàinte, chuir Hannah a cuid ionnsachaidh an-còmhnaidh air thoiseach. Cha do chuir fiù ùine san ospadal bacadh oirre. Chuireadh i a-mach a leabhraichean air an leabaidh agus bhiodh a laptop aice ri làimh airson seiseanan air astar. Cha robh an seòrsa diongmhaltas seo air a chall air an sgioba-obrach mheidigich. Tha e air a bhith na adhbhar irioslachaidh dhuinn uile a bhith a' faicinn nach eil am boireannach òg seo air leigeil le droch shlàinte sònrachadh cò i."

A' bruidhinn mun duais aice, thuirt Hanna: "Roghnaich mi Gàidhlig a sgrùdadh oir tha ùidh agam ann an cànanan, agus an dèidh beagan ionnsachadh san sgoil bha mi airson cumail air adhart agus tuilleadh ionnsachadh mun chultar cuideachd. 'S e urram a th' ann an duais seo fhaighinn, gu h-àraid agus gun mi air mo thogail le Gàidhlig, agus bidh mi gu bràth taingeil do gach neach aig Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, aig an taigh agus sgioba an cystic fibrosis, airson an taic choibhneil agus am misneachadh, a bha cho prìseil dhomh."

Thuirt an t-Àrd-Ollamh Clive Mulholland, prionnsapal agus iar-sheansalair Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd 's nan Eilean: "Chaidh Hannah a thaghadh gu h-aon-ghuthach mar oileanach na bliadhna leis na riochdairean uile air a' phannal breithneachaidh againn. Tha a diongmhaltas agus a dìcheall a dh'aindeoin suidheachadh pearsanta dùbhlanach air a bhith gun choimeas, a' taisbeanadh na ghabhas a choileanadh nuair a chuireas tu romhad e. Tha mi air leth toilichte gu bheil Hannah air ceum le urram a chosnadh ann an cuspair mu bheil i a' faireachdainn cho làidir agus tha mi a' guidhe dhi gach soirbheachadh san àm ri teachd."

Fhuair Hannah teisteanas agus seic airson £200 nota aig seirbheis ceumnachaidh Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI air Dihaoine 6 Dàmhair. A-nis, on tha i air crìoch a chur air a ceum acadaimigeach, tha i an dòchas leantainn air adhart ag ionnsachadh mun Ghàidhlig agus ga cleachdadh cho tric 's as urrainn dhi.