A graduate from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) got a real degree in drama after she and her family escaped a terrifying car fire en route to the ceremony.
Melody Faulkner, her parents and two brothers were only minutes from Leicester when their car bonnet began to smoke.
Pic: Ian Smith / Twitter
Pulling to the side of the M69, the family leapt out, grabbing graduation gowns and dresses from the boot, as the engine bay erupted in huge sheets of flame.
Police and fire services arrived and had to close part of the motorway as they contained the blaze, causing three-mile tailbacks along the road.
With their car a write-off, the family hitched a lift on the recovery truck to The Venue@DMU where they saw Melody, 21, collect her degree in Drama.
Melody said it had been a traumatic experience.
She said: “We were in the car and we could smell something funny. So we stopped and we saw smoke pouring out of the bonnet. We got out, got our things and next thing there was just huge flames coming out of the front.
“It was just unreal. I was getting into my robes, ready for the ceremony and I realised I couldn’t stop shaking. It was all just sinking in.”
Dad David said the insurance company had covered taxi fare for the family to get home after celebrating Melody’s achievement.
He said: “It hasn’t ruined our day; this is Melody’s day and we want it to be special. Sorting all this out can wait until tomorrow.
“Main thing is we’re all safe, we got here and it was a brilliant ceremony.”
Melody – who graduated with a 2:1 - said she had gone into her degree wanting to be an actress but that the variety of experiences on the course had changed her mind.
She said: “The lecturers – especially Tracy Cruickshank – were just so helpful and gave a lot of support in helping us find what it was we liked doing.
“I discovered a lot of aspects backstage I had never really appreciated before and now that’s what I’d really love to go into.
“I also went on a brilliant #DMUglobal trip to Liege in my second year where we performed with people from all over the world at a festival. That kind of experience just makes DMU stand out for me.
“And the ceremony was lit: it was such a good atmosphere and everyone gets their chance in the spotlight. It feels really personal.”
Also graduating today was Fatma Thakur, who had graduated from her Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science course.
She said: “I have loved DMU it has been such an experience. I have had some rollercoaster rides but it has been amazing.
“The course was great and we had lots of support. On my placement year, I designed a new foundation for Boots No.7 which is being launched next year which was incredible.
“I’m going to chill now and then look for a job in the cosmetics industry.”
Posted on Friday 21st July 2017