Chloe Ward is a third year student from Coolock, Dublin, studying Computer Applications at DCU. In this piece, she describes why she decided to pursue third level education, her experience of a virtual work placement on this year’s Access to the Workplace programme and what it means to her to be an Access Ambassador.
“I never really heard of anyone going to college until one of my older brothers went. Our parents wanted myself and my four siblings to go to college, as they left school at a very young age themselves, however myself and my brother are the only ones out of our immediate and extended family to have gone to college.
Despite not having many people in my life going on to third level education, I knew I wanted to go to college since I was in second year of secondary school. I stumbled across an organisation online called “Girls Who Code” around this time, which led me on to researching code and learning web design. Since then, I decided I wanted to get a job in tech and knew that going to college was the only way I could pursue this career.
I started the UFirst programme in fifth year, which was so helpful for learning about college. I attended workshops on the DCU Glasnevin Campus once a month where I learnt about the different college courses at DCU, how to apply to courses and other skills I needed for going to college. I also had the opportunity to shadow a first year student who was studying Computer Applications at DCU, which really helped make my mind up on what course I wanted to do.
I’m now in my third year studying Computer Applications at DCU and I’ve loved my time so far here. The Access Programme has been a massive help, supporting me both financially and in my studies. Neither of my parents work, so the financial support from Access has been vital in helping me through college. Back in first year, the Access team also organised tutors for a few Access students who were struggling with maths and programming, which I found really valuable.
Another great aspect of the Access programme is the Access to the Workplace programme. I’ve just finished up my work experience with BT Ireland as part of the Access to the Workplace programme and it was an amazing experience. I worked on the communications team, where I was responsible for promoting the BT Young Scientist Awards. Through this, I got to work with loads of different people throughout the company, from the tech team to the business team.
This placement was a great opportunity for me, and something I know I could not have gotten without the help of the Access team. I had to work from home due to the Covid-19 crisis, but BT Ireland provided me with a phone and laptop making life a lot easier for me.
I decided to become an Access Ambassador simply because of my experience with the Access Programme over the last few years. I’ve been supported so much by Access since secondary school, so I wanted to repay Access in whatever way I could. I really enjoy talking to secondary school students and making them realise that third level education is a possibility for them, no matter what their background might be.”
“I feel students relate more to people who have the same background as them, so being an Access Ambassador is really rewarding as you can see you’re giving students the confidence and knowledge they need to realise they are capable of furthering their education.”