Martin's Story - Access Graduate

Martin Lynch graduated from DCU with a Bachelor in Business Studies in 2009. Since then, Martin has completed a MSc in International Marketing Practice at UCD Smurfit and has also worked with globally recognised Irish organisations. In this piece, Martin describes how the DCU Access Programme has helped him fulfil his potential in life.

“I grew up in a family of eleven children in Coolock, so it was a very busy house from the get go. I went to a secondary school which had a low rate of progression to third level education, however this progression rate has improved since I’ve left thanks to outreach programmes such as DCU’s Access Programme.

There wasn’t any history of third level education in my family until my older brother and sister went to DCU where they were supported by the Access Programme. My dad was the main provider for our family, so with eleven children to look after university wouldn’t have been an option for myself and my siblings without the Access Programme due to financial constraints at home.

We received a few talks from the Access team while at secondary school, and while I wasn’t the top of my class, the Access team encouraged me to apply to  DCU as they understood the importance of equal access to education no matter who you are or where you come from.

Going to DCU as a first year was a daunting experience – I was the only one in my friend group who had applied and been accepted into a university, while none of my peers had gone to university before me either. The Access Programme made this transition much easier and more enjoyable with a summer school and orientation week for Access students ahead of the rest of the university starting back, where I actually ended up meeting three of my best friends who I’m still close friends with to this day.

I moved out of home when I was 18 years old due to difficulties at home, so I was worried I wouldn’t have been able to support myself and study at DCU at the same time. However, the Access Programme helped me apply for assisted living costs which really helped carry the load. The support of the Access Programme during my time at DCU allowed me to maximise my experience of third level education while also enjoying extra-curricular activities without any major financial worries.

I choose to specialise in marketing in my final year of Business Studies at DCU after completing my INTRA placement with Innocent Smoothie. Since graduating from DCU, I have also graduated from UCD Smurfit with a MSc in International Marketing Practice and completed a fellowship programme with Bord Bia. I lived and worked in Australia for the last ten years where I have represented Irish food and drink brands in international markets, specifically in the Asia-Pacific Region. I moved home to Ireland with my wife and one-year-old child in August 2020 where I still work with Teeling Whiskey.

I know none of this would have been possible without the support I received from DCU’s Access Programme as far back as those early days of applying to study at DCU while in secondary school. Because of this, I try to give back to DCU by mentoring students, volunteering with Access’s sport and homework clubs in Ballymun and also supporting DCU’s squash team which I helped revive during my time as a student at DCU.”

“DCU’s Access Programme is instrumental in enabling students from disadvantaged areas to understand third level education is achievable with the right supports and normalising the college experience for those students who go on to study at DCU. I am eternally grateful to the supporters of the DCU Access Programme for giving me the opportunity to develop the skills and experience in life that have gotten me to where I am today.”