Claire Joyce is in her third year studying Irish and Geography at the DCU Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences. As a member of the Traveller community, she explains the challenges that she has overcome to attend third level education and what the support of the DCU Access Programme has meant to her.
“Although they left school at the age of 12, my parents have always had a great attitude to education. They went back later in their own lives and wanted my siblings and I to go as far as we could too. It wasn’t an attitude that everybody around me shared growing up. Even my extended family would often ask why I would waste my time and money on higher education.
I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was 7 years old though. I always loved school and with 44 grandchildren in my family, I’ve always been surrounded by children! I was heartbroken when I didn’t get the points for primary teaching in my Leaving Certificate but I can see now that doing my BA in Irish and Geography was a good choice as it allowed me to study two subjects that I love while also enjoying the social part of college. I still plan to become a primary teacher and I hope to start my Professional Master of Education (PME) in September!
The DCU Access programme has been a great support in helping me to pursue this dream. Unfortunately, my parents separated eight years ago and since then money has been quite tight. My scholarship support was critical in enabling me to secure accommodation and attend university.
Looking back to when I started in DCU, it’s hard to believe that I felt totally out of my depth and doubted my own ability to compete. At first I didn’t use the supports Access offered but when I finally asked for help, my Access Officer really helped me to see that I deserved my place and was more than able for it. I’m looking forward to doing the same for the children I will teach in the future by encouraging them to believe in themselves and to pursue all the opportunities in their lives.”