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"It takes just one step and if you’re willing to take that step people will be there to help you"

“Sometimes our plans don’t always work out the way we want them to”

In 1990 I completed my Leaving Certificate. I went on to Business College and completed a certificate in business studies. My dream was to become a successful business woman. As we all know, sometimes our plans don’t always work out the way we want them to. I became pregnant in 1993 and stayed at home to care for my daughter. I had three more children after that and then I felt a bit stuck in my life.

“From that moment on my life changed for the better”

After the birth of my last child I suffered from depression. I hid it pretty well, I always had a smile and a positive word while inside I was dying. I had an accident in Christmas 2009 which left me in a lot of pain. It was a very difficult time in my life but I found help from an amazing counsellor and from that moment on my life changed for the better. The Home School Community Liaison Coordinator suggested I attend a course to help with my confidence. The facilitator was brilliant, helping and supporting me. My confidence grew slowly during the course. I also began a Pain Management course where I learned everything from Yoga to Mindfulness. I then heard about a graphic design course in Roslyn Park College in Sandymount. I couldn’t believe my luck, the idea of this course made my soul sing. I went for the interview and trial day and the tutor told me I had an eye for design. I applied for the course and was accepted.

I have had a few busy years learning all I can learn”

I have had a few busy years learning all I can learn and this has helped build my confidence. I finished at the National Learning Centre in 2013 and passed all my exams with distinctions. I also completed 3 years of Partners of Education. With the help of an Adult Guidance Counsellor, I decided to apply to Bray Institute of Further Education for a course in graphic design. It was tough and a lot of hard work but in 2015 I received my QQI Level 6 in Graphic Design with distinctions. I have done many projects for various clients and I have received great feedback on all the work I have done and look forward to where this will bring me.

“I could stand there with my head held high and tell my story”

I have been asked a number of times to speak about my experience of returning to education, I spoke in front of 70 Home School Community Liaison Coordinators and I never imagined I could stand there with my head held high and tell my story. A couple of weeks later I was asked by AONTAS to speak about my journey back into education and was featured on the One Step Up (www.onestepup.ie) website. Again this was a huge personal achievement and my hope now is that my story might inspire people to return to education. I have been so blessed and lucky that the right people came into my life and supported me. It takes just one step and if you’re willing to make that step people will be there to help you.


If you have an inspiring learner story that you would like to share you can contact Leah Dowdall, Learner Advocacy Officer by email: ldowdall@aontas.com, call 01 406 8220 or you can fill out our short learner story survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LearnerStory.