Victoria O’Toole is a final year Law and Society student at DCU from Co. Wicklow. In this piece, Victoria explains how the DCU Access Programme has supported her in her dreams of pursuing third level education.
“I was never really aware of the social divide in Ireland until I got to secondary school. I soon realised that some student’s parents were wealthier than others, and the benefits that comes with that in life, which made me more conscious of our own financial situation at home.
I’m the youngest of four children – my dad retired from Iarnród Éireann when I was nine, and my mam has been a stay at home mother my whole life. Sadly, my dad passed a few years ago, leaving my mam to look after myself and my siblings on a widow’s pension.
My dad passed away the week of my mock exams in sixth year, so I ended up not sitting these exams in preparation for my Leaving Cert. I struggled to focus on studying for my Leaving Cert exams in the following months and ended up receiving 100 points less than what I had expected in my results. I was so disappointed because I was a really hard worker and always got good grades throughout school. I was expecting to repeat my Leaving Cert when I received an email from the DCU Access Programme offering me a place in DCU’s Law and Society course for reduced points.
I was so happy that I was getting the opportunity to study my dream course. I started reading into law when I was about 14, and I quickly realised that I could use a law degree to help others, so I’m extremely grateful that the Access Programme made this dream a reality for me.
The financial support from the Access Programme has been a huge help over the last few years, as I try to support myself financially and not to ask my mam for money as much as possible. I’ve worked as an Access Ambassador for the last two years, so this income along with the financial support from Access has helped pay for commuting expenses and expensive law books, as well as all the other costs that come with going to university.
The support from DCU and the Access Programme has been exactly what I’ve needed to get in to and through university the past few years, so I’m sad I won’t be able to step onto the DCU campus for one last time as a student due to current Covid-19 restrictions. I’ve been accepted to study a Masters in Law in Queen’s University Belfast once I graduate from DCU. I’m hoping to qualify as a solicitor going forward, and hopefully obtain a PhD further down the line.”
“I know however that none of this would be possible without the support of the DCU Access Programme, so I am eternally grateful for the opportunities DCU has opened up for me in life.”