Thursday, 29 June, 2017

The level of support and range of programmes was just what I needed

Posted on October 10, 2016 at 03:52 PM

RowenaAONTAS has long argued that community education has a proven track record in effectively engaging the most educationally disadvantaged learners and providing quality educational experiences that meets their needs. The AONTAS Community Education Network was established in 2007 and comprises over 130 independent community education organisations which work collectively to gain recognition for community education, raise its profile and lobby to ensure it is adequately resourced.

This week adult learner, Rowena from the SAOL Project shares her experience on how returning to education has helped her to gain confidence and skills which have transformed her life.

Rowena's Story

I completed my Leaving Certificate in 2004 but at the time I found the whole experience extremely stressful. I didn't feel ready to continue with my education so I decided to work for a few years. Eventually I had to take a break from work due to mental health issues. I made the decision to return to education as I felt it would boost my confidence and help improve my mental health. I did one module a week on the QQI Level 5 Minor Award in Human Growth and Development with the City of Dublin ETB. This course acted as a stepping stone back into education.

Following my positive experience I was inspired to continue with my education and I applied for a full-time QQI Level 5 course in Community and Health in the Liberties College. I made lots of friends on this course and I enjoyed being in a class with other adult learners who I could relate to. My success on the course encouraged me to progress and complete a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Humanities in All Hallows College (DCU). I am very proud to have finished this degree, especially as I lost my Dad suddenly in second year and I found this very difficult. The staff in the college were extremely supportive and helped me get through it.

After college, I moved to a new area and my friend told me about some of the local supports such as the SAOL project. I began Peer to Peer Training in areas such as Mental Health and Hepatitis C. I really enjoyed learning in this environment as the SAOL project provided great support for people with mental health difficulties, their level of support and range of programmes was just what I needed. I’ve learned so much through these programmes and I have been able to integrate with my new community.

I hope to find employment soon in a job I love and I would like to continue my education in the future by doing a Masters degree in the area of Psychology. There are so many possibilities ahead. Returning to education is extremely worthwhile; I learned so much about myself and the world. I met so many different people and it opened my mind and gave me great insight. It also increased my confidence and allowed me to make new friends. It may feel that life gets in the way but education is an outlet which does so much for you and your growth. 

If you have an inspiring learner story that you would like to share you can contact Karen Williams, Learner Supports Officer by email:, call 01 406 8220 or you can fill out our short learner story survey here:

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