“I found my way through and realised my passion for learning that I never knew I had.”

Adult Learner, Niamh Becton, tells her story of returning to education to study Advanced Social Studies and Advocacy with plans to become an advocate for social inclusion and those affected by food poverty.

My name is Niamh Becton.

I am married and a mother to an 8-year-old. I am 45 years old and I have just completed QQI Level 5 in Youth Work and Community Development including Addiction Studies and Criminology in Sallynoggin College of Further Education. 

I sat my Leaving Cert in June 1992 and two weeks after that I started my apprentice in hairdressing. I was a hairdresser for 24 years and loved it. While expecting my daughter I became ill which continued 

after her birth which lead to me developing severe allergies to the products used in the salon and the salon atmosphere. I had to retire from hair dressing at the age of 40.

"School and I were never friends!"

In 2018, I met a doctor who changed my life. Dietary changes and a tweak of my medication all helped to build up my confidence to even consider going back to education.

School and I were never friends! It was difficult at the start, learning how to use a computer, having limited knowledge on how to use it. The second day I left a class crying because I was so slow at typing compared to the younger ones. But with guidance from my fellow students and encouragement from my tutors, I found my way through and realised my passion for learning that I never knew I had.

I have applied to go on to do Level 6 in QQI in Advanced Social Studies and Advocacy back in Sallynoggin College for Further Education and can't wait to be a student again and sit in a classroom eager to learn. I am passionate about food poverty and social inclusion. I volunteer and sit on the committee in my community center and I am the Events Coordinator for the center, which gives me a platform to do work in both of these areas, but with my qualification I hope to be employed and be an advocate for social inclusion and those affected by food poverty. 


Thinking of returning to education as an adult? You may find the following resources useful:

One Step Call the One Step Up Freephone helpline at 1 800 303 696 or contact Sam O’Brien-Olinger, AONTAS Information and Policy Officer via email:

Education and Training Board Ireland (Find an EBT):

Fetch Courses