Originally from Cavan, Amy is currently studying a Masters in Climate Change: Policy, Media and Society in DCU after graduating with a BA in Journalism from DCU in 2019. In this piece, Amy describes how the Access Programme has supported her during her studies over the past four years.
“Although neither of my parents went to college, they really wanted me to get a third level education and pursue my dream of becoming a journalist. But when it came to filling out CAO applications in sixth year, I was worried about the cost of college. I’m the eldest of four children, so I didn’t want to depend on my parents to fully support me through college, as my siblings may need support in the future too. However, they always did their best to help me out, whether it was sending up a few prepared dinners or washing my clothes at the weekend, every small thing added up to save money.
Putting our money worries to the back of my mind, I tried my best to study and get the points needed to study Journalism at DCU. My house can be very noisy in the evenings with three younger brothers and my mam minding young children. I can be easily distracted by noise, so I had to study in the local library after school which never stayed open later than 6pm during the week, resulting in a limit to my study hours.
Despite all my hard work, I missed out on my course by five points, but luckily I had applied to DCU’s Access Programme which meant I could avail of a reduced points system to study journalism. Despite my excitement, I soon become consumed by anxious thoughts of the cost of going to college, I didn’t understand how to pay rent or how to keep control of my money.
I was quite nervous moving to Dublin at first – I didn’t even know how to get the bus into town! As an Access student, I attended an Orientation Week ahead of the rest of the university starting back where I met other Access students, including one of my best friends. I began my course feeling a lot more confident than I had just one week before.
Like most first years, I enjoyed living away from home for the first time and meeting new people from all over the country. However, at the end of my first semester I became quite ill. I began to faint and had little energy, so attending college became extremely difficult for me. The Access team were really helpful when I explained my situation and organised on-campus accommodation for me in my second semester to shorten my commute to class.
“The Access team have always been there to support me whenever I’ve needed help over the past few years, no matter how big or small my problem has been. Even when I was feeling quite low and wanted to drop out of college, my Access Officer provided me with the help and support I needed to stay in college. If it weren’t for Access, I definitely wouldn’t have a university degree.”
I’ve always been very passionate about climate change, so pursuing a masters in this area was at the forefront of my mind throughout my undergraduate degree. I want to enter into the niche world of climate change journalism, in hope that my correspondence will encourage people to take more action in preventing climate change. When Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Action popped up in 2018, I knew I had to get behind this movement as I want to have a positive impact on the world and knew there would be a multitude of jobs in this area. I was so determined to pursue a masters in climate change, but I knew it would cost my thousands of euro to do it. Thankfully, Access has been able to support me through my studies, which is a huge relief.
My experience with DCU’s Access Programme has inspired me to get involved with helping other people. I’m currently the Post-Graduate Student Union Officer at DCU, which involves being the voice for post-graduate students who are facing any issues relating to their course or college life. Access has helped me to build on my confidence, work ethic and organisation skills. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for Access. I hope to one day be a prominent voice in the realm of climate change and make a difference for our future generations.”