Can you tell us about your connection to DCU?
I had always known of DCU as I grew up in Glasnevin until the age of thirteen. I first crossed paths with DCU personally when I was just seventeen. I knew the college had a good name and when looking for an undergraduate course to study after secondary school, I felt they seemed to provide a wide range of different courses. I settled on studying a BA in Contemporary Culture and Society. The course lasted three years, from 2008 – 2011. Having not had the easiest time in school, I loved being a college student in DCU. I always found those working on campus extremely welcoming, with a strong communal feel. Being in DCU opened up a world of possibilities and gave me the chance to meet such a broad spectrum of people from all over. Although everyone was different in their own way, it truly felt like a big family and I really felt included in university life here. These three years provided a great time of personal growth for me and I always remembered just how formative those years were towards who I am today.
After travelling and working for a few years, I decided to go back to DCU and complete a Masters in Humanitarian Logistics and Emergency Management in 2016. I went back to study in DCU again as I knew the strengths of the university and felt confident in the quality of the education provided having had such a positive personal experience with regards to my undergraduate degree. This time around, I was so comfortable on campus and really felt at home here. This course would go on to play a role in shaping my career and helped me to develop a sense of self.
Why did you decide to support the DCU Access Programme?
Once I had finished my Masters degree in DCU, I felt really strongly about giving back to the college that had helped me get to where I am. At this stage, with a strong education behind me, I began to work full time and started to make strides in my career. I found out about the DCU Access Programme through the newsletter and felt that it was a great fit for my donations as it focused on helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend college. I considered myself lucky to be a student in DCU and I knew that where I had spent a lot of time as a kid, around Glasnevin, Ballymun and Finglas, the opportunity to attend third level education was rare. I am proud to have the opportunity to give back to the communities in which I grew up in. I would have considered myself to have a different learning style to the traditional style in school, but would place a lot of importance on education. So being able to support people who feel the same and who may not be able to afford college, is very rewarding for me. I am the embodiment of what experiencing college life at DCU can do for you so I hope that brings encouragement to others also.
More recently, you have also become a donor of the DCU University of Sanctuary Scholarship Programme. How did you come to support this as well as the Access Programme?
Again, I heard about the DCU University of Sanctuary Scholarship Programme through the newsletter and other online platforms this year. It immediately struck a chord with me and so I contacted Sarah Williams who was very helpful in talking me through the programme and provided me with all the information around the University of Sanctuary in DCU.
As I have progressed to a senior position in my career, I wanted to continue to develop my donation to DCU and this programme was another perfect fit for me. As I work in the humanitarian sector around the world, I am often stationed in conflict zones and continue to work with people who are displaced from their homes. I have become friends with a number of refugees and getting to know their stories has brought this cause even closer to my heart.
I see such merit in the University of Sanctuary Scholarship Programme as it looks towards the future for asylum seekers and refugees. For me, the ability to see a future when one has been displaced, is embedded in education. This initiative makes resources available for people to move forward and better themselves. It is heartening for me to be a donor for such a positive and impactful programme and to play a role in DCU’s wider approach, realising the challenges which people face when moving their lives and starting over in a new country.
A lasting connection to DCU…
I am tremendously proud to be able to support these two initiatives in DCU. It has truly come full circle for me to provide philanthropic support to the university in this way. Due to the nature of my work, the Access Programme and the University of Sanctuary Programme stand out to me as incredibly worthy causes and I am so proud to see DCU grow on a number of initiatives. As a university, it has continued to develop in this way while maintaining the ethos of the importance of education locally, but expanding further afield also. As a past student, I am keen to maintain my connection with the university and continue to support DCU from whatever corner in the world I may reside.