Joanna's Story

Joanna Ozougwu is a third-year DCU student in Mechatronic Engineering, whose success in university encouraged her mom to return to education.  Here, she shares how the DCU Access Programme is helping her to achieve her goals.

“I grew up in Clondalkin as the second oldest of five. In school, my highest grades were always in Maths, and I really enjoyed it as a subject. As a teenager, I developed an interest in coding and began teaching myself different programming languages.

In Transition Year, we had guest speakers come to our school to tell us about all these different careers, and that was when engineering struck me as the most exciting path I could take. It’s a sector that manufactures and shapes the future of our lives.

I decided to follow my passion, and I got more than enough points in my Leaving Certificate to study Engineering at DCU. Although registration fees are now very high, I qualified for the SUSI grant, so I knew I’d be okay. When I first heard about the Access Programme from my guidance counsellor in school, it was a relief to know that I’d have that extra support network.

Now my older brother and I are both in university – and just this year, my mom started studying in DCU too. My mom went to university in Nigeria before we were born, but since coming to Ireland she’s worked in hospitals as a Mental Health Assistant, often working nights to look after people and assist the nurses.

“Seeing my brother and I go to university encouraged her to pursue her own degree in Nursing (Intellectual Disabilities) in DCU.”


I’m really enjoying my course, and I’m interested in all branches of engineering. That’s why I decided to specialise in Mechatronic Engineering, which combines the mechanical, software and electronic elements. My favourite part is definitely the coding. Our assignments encourage us to challenge ourselves, and to go beyond what we’ve learned and achieve even more.

“It has made a real difference to know that my Access Officer is always there to help, and she shares a lot of updates about the different opportunities available to us. Through the Access Programme, I joined a mentorship programme at Google. It was really fun to go to their office and hear career advice and CV tips from such encouraging speakers.”


This summer, I took part in an internship with Analog Devices in Limerick, where I gained experience in programming for robotics. It was incredibly rewarding to see these mechanical devices move based on the code that I was writing. I’d love to build a career developing software and code, especially if I can apply it onsite and see the results. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is especially interesting to me, because there’s a huge potential for it to improve our lives.

Thanks to my scholarship, I don’t need to worry about having to work so much, so I can enjoy the social side of college life more. I’m part of the Music Society at DCU, and I really enjoy performing at their music sessions. Last year, I also got involved in the DJ Society and the Alternative and Indie Music Society (AIMS), as well as the GalStem and Engineering Societies. I think music and coding are both quite mathematical, so I like being able to do both.”

“After I graduate, I want to build a career where I can lead change, both for my company and my community. Advances in technology can help us to improve healthcare outcomes and reimagine how we respond to challenges like the climate crisis. I want to be part of that.”

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