Michael Alake is a first year Engineering student in DCU. In this piece, he describes how the DCU Access programme has helped him on his education journey.
“I grew up living with my dad and my sister in Athboy. It’s always been the three of us. My sister moved out recently, so it’s just me and my dad now. We have a very close relationship. In a way, I’m going to college for him to be proud of me. I have a lot of gratitude to him.
My dad left Nigeria when he was 16 and came to Ireland in the nineties. That was when he met my mam and had us. He’s a very hardworking man. He works in the local community hall, so he can’t walk down the street without people recognising him. My sister was the first in our family to go to college. My dad stopped his education to take care of us – that’s why he values education so highly.
At home, I play and coach football with Athboy Celtic, and I’ve been with them all my life. I went to secondary school in Athboy Community College. I always enjoyed learning, and engineering was one of my favourite subjects in school. I remember seeing the workshop on our secondary school open day and being surprised that we could do all this in school. I knew then that engineering was what I wanted to do.
School wasn’t as enjoyable during Covid, when we didn’t have the social side of it, but I knuckled down in fifth and sixth year and did my best. I exceeded my own expectations in the Leaving Certificate, and got into Engineering at DCU on a reduced points offer. I was delighted when I found out.
“To come from an underprivileged background and get the opportunity to study a course I might not have been accepted into otherwise was great. Things like grinds would be harder to afford for my family, so I’m very thankful.”
I haven’t planned out the future after college, but I want to keep growing my interest in engineering and enjoy my course as much as I can. With Common Entry into Engineering, I get a chance to sample everything. We’re making a self-driving car in our lab, and learning about things like Digital Design too.
I was a bit nervous starting college, but the early orientation through Access was fun. I got to learn about campus and meet new people who I still talk to today. Alongside what I can earn myself from cutting hair, the scholarship helps me with commuting costs and everything else I need to keep me going.