“When you’re coming from a background like mine, none of the friends I grew up with went to college, especially to go do a masters. A second degree was unheard of. To work as a social worker in Ireland you have to do a masters and there was no way I could have funded myself. I don’t know how many years it would have taken me to save that money. The scholarship made a career possible for me. I come from a background of poverty I suppose is what you’d call it; minimum wage paying job, no professional qualification, I have a history of drug abuse and alcohol addiction and no family connections. I found it very difficult to secure funding for college. The financial piece is massive for people, especially for the qualification I was looking for where there wasn’t any alternative route to take, this was the only route.
I have a younger brother with a similar story to me, he’s now in third level education as well, because of what he saw was possible for me. The impact of the scholarship can filter out further than just the individual being supported. Now I have the capacity to work with and help the people within my community and society in general, the scholarship has given me that.
I’ve been given so many options because of this scholarship, I owe it everything. In various points in life, I have felt trapped and isolated with a lack of choice. Any choices I did have were all bad – I don’t have that anymore; I now have great freedom and autonomy in my life as a result from the education I’ve gained. Alongside that, I’ve gained friendships and experiences, all those things that come with education that aren’t part of formal learning have all really aided me in where I am today.”