Blayne Walsh graduated with a BSc in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science from DCU in 2011. Since then, he has gone on to work with leading pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Allergan. In this piece, Blayne explains how the support he received from the DCU Access Programme helped him to get to where he is today.
“I grew up in Ashtown where I was the eldest of three brothers. With three young boys to look after, money was tight at home growing up. My dad was a taxi man and my mam worked as a bookkeeper in a betting shop, both hailing from Ballymun. While neither of my parents had the opportunity to attend third level education, they encouraged myself and my brothers to go to college and pursue a course we were interested in.
In fourth year, I began working part-time at a DIY shop to buy my own clothes and pay for school books and Leaving Certificate exam papers. Having a part-time job really took the weight off my parents’ shoulders, however I stopped working in sixth year to concentrate on studying for my Leaving Cert.
I was really interested in Chemistry, but I had no idea what kind of career I could pursue with a Chemistry degree. I didn’t know anyone at college studying science and no one in my family had went to college either. However, I knew I wanted to get, what my dad would call “a good job”, where I would have job security and not have the same money worries my parents had.
I went to a few different open days, but I knew DCU was the right place for me. I had such a good feeling when I attended the open day, as it all felt somewhat familiar to me as I remembered driving past the long Albert College walk after visiting family in Ballymun as a child, wondering what laid at the end of the path.
In 2007, I finally found out what lay at the end of that path, as I was accepted in to DCU to study Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science. I attended the Access Orientation Week before the rest of the University started back, and my nerves were instantly calmed. Within a few hours of my first day I had made so many friends, which have turned out to be friends for life.
I’m extremely thankful to have been an Access student, as I feel I would have dropped out if it weren’t for the support I received through the Access programme. I found a few modules in first year quite difficult as I hadn’t studied the subjects at secondary school, such as Biology and Physics. The Access Programme organised grinds for me, something I wouldn’t have been able to afford myself. I carried on attending grinds until I got to final year to ensure I was fully up to speed and understood what was going on in my modules.
I graduated from DCU in 2011, and went on to complete a MSc in Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance and Biotechnology at DIT. Since then, I have worked in Pfizer as a Quality Assurance Specialist, Technical Writer and Medical Officer, and currently work as a Third Party Quality Specialist in Allergan. Most recently, I was fortunate enough to be part of a global project at Allergan where I had the opportunity to visit New Jersey and California for five weeks at a time!”
“I cannot thank the Access Programme enough, it helped me so much during my time at DCU and I and am forever thankful. It’s an amazing programme which really benefits students. I am such a proud Access Alumni.”