Caitlin’s Story

Support from the DCU Access Programme helped Caitlin pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. Now, she wants to inspire other young people from her area to reach their potential.

“I grew up in a pretty busy home in Ballymun, where I was the third youngest of seven, along with my twin sister. My dream was to be a teacher, ever since I was in primary school. I knew that would mean going to college, but it was only when my brother started studying Law in DCU that I first really imagined myself going to university.

“Seeing him go to college just down the road made me think that university was a possibility for me too. I used to pass DCU on the bus and think, I want to get off at this stop and go in.


I went to secondary school in a DEIS school in Glasnevin, where we had a lot of career guidance support. In sixth year, our school had a visit from the DCU Access Outreach Programme, who spoke to us about university and how to apply, and that was a great help. We’re the first generation of the family to go to university, but my brother’s positive experience with the DCU Access Programme, and his belief in me, made me realise that I could do this too.

The Access Programme got me into college, and I wouldn’t be here without it. My twin sister and I started college the same year, so we were definitely worried about the financial side of things. Without the SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) grant and the DCU Access Programme, we would have faced a lot more barriers.

The support we get from the Access Programme means a lot. It’s incredible to have someone you can go to with any of your problems, and financial supports like the scholarship and lunch vouchers for the campus shop come in really helpful.

I’m in my final year now, studying Religious Education and History, and I love the relationships you form with the students when you’re out on teaching placement. I think it’s my own enjoyment of learning that makes me want to teach, because you’re sharing that love of learning with others and making an impact in the lives of your students.

My parents never had the chance to finish secondary school, so it was always their ambition that we’d make it through school and get the Leaving Certificate. University was more than they ever hoped for. Everything we’ve achieved is for them, and I think we’re all really proud to be exceeding their expectations.

I hope that by next August, I’ll be working as a secondary school teacher in the same area I grew up in. I want to be a role model to other young people in Ballymun. There are a lot of stereotypes around people from our area, so there’s a sense that you should start sounding like your “phone voice” and correct your speech to get ahead – but this is my voice, and Ballymun is my home.

“When I was in school, none of our teachers sounded like me or came from areas like mine. I really believe in the idea that if you can see it, you can be it. I want the students I teach to really see that college could be for them, and I hope that I can make school feel like a positive place to be.”


Access has changed my life – and over the course of my teaching career I hope I can pass that change on to other young people like me.”

Interested in Supporting Access?