I want to inspire the Travelling community to go back to education

The 2nd European Vocational Skills Week takes place from the 20th to 24th November 2017. As National Coordinator for the European Agenda for Adult Learning, AONTAS is sharing FET learner stories throughout the week. Today Teresa shares her experience of returning to education with the National Learning Network in Waterford and how the women in her life inspired her to achieve her dreams.

My name is Teresa, I am 22 years old, I live in Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny and I am a married. I am from the Travelling community and I didn’t really get much education when I was younger. I rarely went to school because I was never interested. I was influenced by people around me who only wanted to cook and clean. I would feel ashamed when someone would ask me if I was attending school - I would say yes and they would ask me why I was going to school. 

My mother is in education after 50 years of not being able to read or write and she inspired me

I decided to quit school because I didn’t see the point of it when I had a house and family to look after. My mother and sister would always encourage me to go back to education. My mother is in education after 50 years of not being able to read or write and she inspired me. My sister never gave up education and she got the best Leaving Certificate in secondary school and now she is in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) doing Law and she is in her last year. She was a huge inspiration and motivated me to achieve my dream and go back and do my Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) Level 4 in the National Learning Network (NLN).

I eventually went back to NLN in 2013 and completed my QQI Level 3, I felt very proud. In September 2016 I started another course. I am so grateful to Kitty Galvin Hennessy and Yvonne Firth in NLN Waterford for giving me the opportunity to complete my dream of getting my healthcare qualification. I am now doing my Employer Based Training and I am completing my work experience in a residential care unit.

 Believe in yourself and you shall achieve in life

I believe everyone deserves a second chance to go back to education no matter what age you are, there are so many opportunities for people who never went to school and for early school leavers. Believe in yourself and you shall achieve in life. With a happy mind set I hope to achieve my dream. So many people said to me “you can’t do it” but it only took one person to say “you can do it”. I want to inspire the travelling community to go back to education while being married, as I am happily married and am following the job of my dreams.

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