Nathan’s Story

For English and History student Nathan Croft, studying in DCU opened up a whole world of possibilities. In this piece, he shares how support from the DCU Access Programme helped him make the most of his time in university.

“I grew up in Finglas, just down the road from DCU. I didn’t think I’d be able to go on to college because of where I’m from. I didn’t know anyone from my area who broke through and went to college. The DCU Access Programme helped me become the first in my family to do that.

I was always very studious and I was a big reader when I was a kid. I loved being in school and I think I knew I wanted to go to college before I even knew what I wanted to study – but I could never take for granted that that would happen for me.

I first heard about the DCU Access Programme from our guidance counsellor in school. For me, knowing about that support lessened the stress and made me realise I could do this. I qualified for support from SUSI as well, and that really helped.

When I started going to universities for open days the campus life here in DCU just felt that bit more vibrant. I got to bring my younger sister here for an open day recently, and she’s really excited about the idea of college now too.

The people I met at DCU were amazing. College seems so scary when you’re coming into it, especially when I didn’t have anyone who I could talk to about what it would be like. But I loved it. At first, I was nervous that if people knew I had the scholarship, they’d think less of me. But I was never made to feel ‘poor.’ Sometimes I put more pressure on myself because I felt like I had to work harder to deserve my place here – but the thing is, if you need the support, that’s okay. That’s why the help is there.

I think my biggest advice for new students would be to get involved in societies. That gives you a network of friends who can really help. Although coming out was difficult in school, it opened up a whole other world when I was in college. I was Chair of the LGBTA Society in second year, and Events Officer in fourth year. One of the high points of my time in DCU was helping our team organise the largest student-run Drag Show in Europe, and I’m very proud of what we achieved together.

I spent my third year on Erasmus in Athens, and it was easily the best year of my life. I worked two jobs over the summer to save up, and I won an Erasmus scholarship as well to help cover the costs. It was a brilliant experience, and I made friends from all across Europe.

My younger sisters are definitely more interested in university after seeing the opportunities I’ve had over the years. Even the locals and regulars in the pub where I work have said to me how proud they are.

“Coming from a working-class background, you can feel ashamed to ask for help, but that help was really important to me getting my degree.”


Without SUSI and the Access Scholarship, I could not have afforded to go on Erasmus or to fully take part in college life. Through Access, I was able to get a laptop for my assignments, and the financial support helped with affording things like lunch and books and the bus fare. It meant I could get involved in the Drama Society, because I could afford tickets to their plays.

After graduation, I’m planning on studying a Master in English Literature in Amsterdam, and I might go on to a PhD after that. I really enjoyed the Romantic writers we studied, like Byron and Shelley. I’d love to focus on queer literature if I go into academia. This year, I had my first poem published, and I’d love to have more success as a writer in the future.”

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