Cathal is a Marketing, Innovation and Technology student at DCU. The eldest of three children from Athlone, he is now in his 3rd year. Cathal has worked on two DCU Access Telethons to raise funds for the Access programme and is passionate about giving back in whatever way he can.
“I always knew that I wanted to go to college. My family didn’t have a lot of money but they wanted me to have the opportunity to attend university. Working hard and making my own way was instilled in me from an early age. At the age of eight, I set up a window washing business, I even made business cards and gave them out to neighbours.
My dad tried to save for me to attend college but a medical issue in recent years meant he could no longer work and instead we were faced with a lot of medical expenses. I knew that finding the money for rent in Dublin would be difficult so I worked through 5th and 6th year to save for college.
I knew from 5th year that I wanted to study Marketing, Innovation and Technology – it seemed a natural fit for me as I hope to set up my own business in the future. Through the Access Programme, I was offered a place on the course and I haven’t looked back since.
The financial support from the Access Scholarship has been really important for me. Thanks to grants, this scholarship and my own part-time work, I have been able to be quite self-sufficient and I haven’t placed an additional financial burden on my parents.
However, the support from the Access programme is more than just financial. Initially, I found settling into University a lonely and difficult time. I travelled up on my own to find somewhere to live and ended up renting a house with three working professionals in first year.
The supports from the Access team helped me to feel part of something and that somebody cared for me – they are always looking out for your wellbeing and keeping you informed about opportunities to get involved on campus.
Today, I can happily say I am thriving in DCU. I absolutely love my course and find it easy because I enjoy it. We invent products – there is a lot of innovation and creativity going on. In second year, I got accommodation on campus which really helped me to get more involved with different clubs and societies.
The DCU Access Programme has made a huge contribution to where I am today. Without it, I wouldn’t have gotten the points to do MINT and I would be in debt. Working on two Access telethons has meant a lot to me. When I see people giving to the programme it is just fantastic and I hope that in the future I will be able to do the same.”