Originally from Dublin, Ciara Conran graduated from DCU with a BSc in Education and Training in 2010. Now, working as a as an Educational Leader in Perth, Ciara reflects on her life growing up in Clondalkin and the support the DCU Access Programme provided her with to complete her third level education.
“My mother fell pregnant with me when she was just 16 years old. I grew up in Clondalkin with my mother and father, and soon became the eldest of five children.
I really enjoyed going to school and had a great experience there, but with constant issues at home, I always had something to worry about. By the time I got to my Leaving Cert, I had the highest level of education in my family, as both of my parents had left school after completing their Junior Cert.
I had my goals set high and began thinking about going to college and how I could afford to get there. I started working at the age of 16 to support myself financially, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to cover the expenses of going to college on my own. My dad was the main provider at home working as a truck driver and delivery man, and with four younger siblings getting financial assistance from my parents to go to college just wasn’t an option for me.
Luckily, a guidance councillor at my school told me about the DCU Access Programme and encouraged me to fill out the application form. Thankfully, I was accepted into DCU’s BSc in Education and Training course.
I attended an Orientation Week for Access students before the rest of the university started back, and I can happily say I met friends for life during that first week. The DCU Access Programme was so supportive and really made the transition from school to university an easy one for me.
I graduated from DCU in 2010 and began my career in social work, using the skills and knowledge from my degree to help and support children from disadvantaged areas. I worked as a Social Care Worker in St Ultan’s After School Programme in Cherryorchard, before becoming the Programme Coordinator.
In 2014, I moved to Perth and changed my career path. I now work as an Educational Leader, training and mentoring staff to an exceeding standard in relation to Educational Programme and Practice within the Australian National Quality Framework in Early Childhood Education and Care.
“The financial support I received from the DCU Access Programme broke the cycle of teen pregnancy and drug-related issues in my family, and allowed me to set a precedent for my younger siblings, which I suppose is what the DCU Access Programme is really all about. My younger sister also went on to study in the field of social studies and now has a Masters in Child, Family and Youth.”
I would like to say a special thank you to the supporters of the DCU Access Programme – thanks to your support many years ago, I was able to focus on my studies while at DCU without any added financial stress, which ultimately enabled me to gain the knowledge and skills I needed to get me to where I am today. For that, I am forever grateful.”