Nathan's Story

Nathan Burke is a second year Law and History student from Coolock. In this piece, Nathan explains how the DCU Access Programme has given him the opportunity to show his family and friends that, with the right supports, you can go to university no matter who you are or where you come from.

“I grew up in Coolock where the levels of completing secondary school or even going on to third level education are very low in comparison to other areas in Dublin, however I didn’t let this stop me from following my dreams of going to university.

My dad passed away when I was younger, so it’s just myself, my mam and my twin brother at home. My mam works really hard to provide for myself and my brother. This definitely pushed me on to do well at school and get into a good university as I wanted to make my mam proud and show her that her hard work had paid off.

I played a lot of sport in secondary school and also play Gaelic football with my local GAA Club. When I found out about DCU’s strong connection with Gaelic football, it seemed like the perfect university for me especially since it was only a few minutes down the road from my house. I wanted to study law at university after completing my work placement in a barrister’s office in Transition Year. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the points I wanted in my Leaving Cert, so I repeated my Leaving Cert year and was accepted into DCU’s BA in Law and History in 2019.

The Access Programme has been a huge support over the last couple of years. The financial support takes the pressure off when it comes to paying for everyday college expenses, and it’s great to have your Access officer to talk to whenever you might have an issue or need some sort of extra support.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has come with its negative experiences and impacts, I always try to see the positive side of things in life. As my lectures are now online, I’m able to work full time with Dublin Bus’s customer service team to provide for myself and gain professional work experience which will help with securing a good job after graduating from DCU.

It can be difficult to find the motivation to study at home when you’re missing out on a normal college life experience, but I’m hoping to study a master’s degree in law at DCU once I graduate, so this helps to keep me focused when completing assignments or studying for exams.

“As the first person in my family and one of the very few in my community to go to university, I’m really grateful that the DCU Access Programme has given me the opportunity to set a good example for my wider family and community, and show them that anyone can go to the university with the right support.”