Jodie Dunk, 24, completed her Level Three Childcare course at Northbrook College, while looking after two young children and coping with the loss of her first daughter, Mariah.
And in the process, she has tirelessly raised £15,000 for Meningitis Now, raising awareness of the deadly disease which suddenly took her daughter’s life, at the age of 13 months, in 2009.
She said: “It was a huge shock. She was ill the day before she died and we thought she had a cold.
“I came home that night, put her to bed and gave her Calpol and to be honest, we didn’t think she was really ill, but she just passed away in her sleep.
“The next morning we found her in her cot. It was too late.”
Shortly afterwards, Jodie, of Upper Brighton Road, Sompting, started her apprenticeship, working at Squirrels Nursery, at Worthing Hospital.
Now, her own children, Freya, two, and Joey, nine months, accompany her to work, which acts as a great comfort to her.
She said: “Work helps me. It is really hard to lose a loved one but if you stay at home, you’re going to get depressed and really sad. Socialising really helps.”