A 25-year-old woman who racked up more than 50 convictions and lived at 25 different addresses between the ages of 13 and 18 will graduate with a first-class degree in Policing, Investigation and Criminology on Thursday.
Lancaster-born Natalie Atkinson left school aged 12 and has committed more than 100 offences, including assaulting a police officer, theft, battery and criminal damage.
Having been in and out of secure juvenile centres from the beginning of her teens, Natalie found herself locked up in HMP Styal, Cheshire - where she developed a Subutex addiction and began to self-harm - just a week after her 18th birthday.
But the University of Cumbria student turned her life around and achieved a majestic 95% in her dissertation and will go on to study for a MSc in Criminal Justice Policy at the pretigious London School of Economics.
"Education helped me start to believe that I could use my own life experiences to benefit other people and so I started going to college," she told to the BBC.
Around a sixth of UK students receive a first-class degree, putting Natalie in a slim minority of high achievers.
This month she was named the National Union of Students Student of the Year, having been nominated by her student's union for her positive attitude and commitment to her studies, which she juggled with working as a youth activist.
Natalie, who recently presented a BBC3 documentary, ‘Banged Up and Left to Fail’, said she is "still in shock" at the award.
The university's student union described her as a "truly inspirational woman, and a fine example of how anything is possible, regardless of background, mistakes and whatever has gone before".
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