By Sophia Dellapina

STUDENT Maeve Geary took men on at their own game to pay off her loans – by working as a bouncer.

The 5ft 1in University of Bolton student worked part time on the doors of the town’s pubs and clubs to fund her degree course in special effects.

The 29-year-old worked up to 30 hours a week at Bolton and Manchester venues, and even earned the role of head doorman at Lush. She also spent time working at former nightclub Ikon.

Martial arts fan Miss Geary said: “I was never really good at standing up for myself, so I threw myself into a situation where I’d learn quickly. You sort of show them a different way of doing things as a female. If I got involved in a situation with two men fighting, first of all they’re kind of intrigued at the fact I’m only 5ft 1 in and I go over and I tell them what to do. Quite often the surprise alone is enough to stop them.”

She said: “I was there to delegate tasks to other doormen and liaise with the police a bit better because I wasn’t just big muscle.”

Despite her courage, Miss Geary has still been exposed to violence, and was once involved in an attack outside a bar in Bradshawgate, which left her needing surgery to repair her lip.

She said: "I was off duty at the time when two women recognised me as a bouncer and attacked me. They hit me with a glass and I had to have surgery. I still can't feel part of my lip, so it can be a dangerous job."

Miss Geary also started the Mixed Martial Arts society at the University of Bolton.

According to the National Union of Students (NUS), about 50 per cent of students are stressed about their living costs.

For now, Miss Geary is preparing to trade in her security jacket for a lab coat as she jets off to America to continue her PhD studies in special effects and medical simulations, working at Boston Children’s Hospital.

And she is also marrying her fiancé James Smallman, aged 31.

She said: “I get married a week before I jet off, so it will be a nice occasion to get the family together before I leave.”

Although Miss Geary now studies full-time, she explained that having a part-time job at University was very important for her. She said: “Being a bouncer helped me support myself through university and taught me a lot about people from all walks of life. That’s so useful to me. Especially now.”