Jodie’s Story

Jodie Kearney loves looking at life under the microscope. In this piece, she shares how the ICON Access Scholarship is helping her to achieve her dream of studying Genetics and Cell Biology at DCU. 

“I was born in Ballymun. Some people might think it’s not the best place to live, but it did me well so far! I’m the first in my family to go to college the first time around. My mam went back to do a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course a few years ago in aviation, and it was an inspiration. She’s a healthcare assistant now, and my dad is a construction worker.

I went to school in St Mary’s Holy Faith Convent. The structure wasn’t really for me, but I put in the work to get to college. I was there to do well, and science came naturally to me. I had a really good year head who looked out for me. She nominated three of us to go to DCU every Friday and experience the campus through the UFirst Access Outreach programme, and I loved it.

My guidance counsellor showed me the Access scheme, and she was thrilled when I got my first choice. I got into the Genetics and Cell Biology course through reduced points, and getting my CAO offer was a day I’ll never forget. All my hard work had paid off. I just burst into tears.

I was always dead set on science and there was nothing changing my mind. In biology in school, we never covered the genetics chapters, but I read them myself at home and knew that this was what I wanted to do. I’m really interested in bacterial genetics and microorganisms. I can’t believe that we can view things that are microscopic. I’m very grateful for this opportunity.

I really want to work in a lab after college, maybe in immunology or bacteria. I love microscopy. When I go into a lab and I get to use a microscope, I know it’s going to be a good day. I want lab work to be the basis of my career, and this course will open a lot of doors. I love a crossword, and I like to embroider too, as well as just going out with my friends and having a laugh. You have to find a balance.

“I have a little sister, so it’s very important to me to be someone she can look up to. She takes after me already – I show her pictures of bacteria under the microscope, and she loves it!”


The Access programme gives you so many opportunities on top of just getting into college. We were able to get an early orientation talk and hear insights from other Access students. I applied for a chance to go to America and work on research projects through Access too. I can’t even put into words the impact that support has had on me. It brings me to tears sometimes, where I am and what I’ve gotten to do. I’ve been very lucky, though it took a lot of hard work too.”

The ICON Access Scholarships, created by leading clinical research organisation ICON, were established to provide students from underrepresented groups with increased opportunities to study STEM through the DCU Access Programme. This support makes a real impact for students like Jodie.

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