I ALWAYS felt like I wanted to make something of myself, but didn’t always want to go to college. In secondary school, a lot of my friends began to leave at the age of 15 or 16, which still today is a normal thing to do in my culture. It was a big decision for me to decide to stay on and do my Leaving Cert, especially when a lot of my friends were at home getting married and having kids.
One day, I was asked by someone ‘Why are you here?’ and ‘why aren’t you at home like the other girls?’ Simple comments like these can really de-motivate you if you let them, but instead, I chose to do everything in my power to prove her wrong.
When Leanne McDonagh (CIT Traveller Educational Coordinator) came to my school to do art classes, as part of the Cork Traveller education inter-agency programme, she made me realise that I could go to college — that it could be my reality. Taking her advice on board, as well as my brothers who also went to CIT ahead of me, I made the decision to go to CIT and I am glad I did.
In school, business was always something I had seen as second nature to me, or as I called it my common-sense subject. When I started college, I can still remember feeling like I was in first year of school again and I had to make a whole new group of friends. I wasn’t sure what area of business to go into, which led me to business administration, a course that covers a lot of different topics under the business sector.
I am the first girl in my family to go to college, for that I thank my mam and dad as they have been my biggest supporters through it all. I am proud of who I am and where I am today, I didn’t intend to be a role model to the people around me but it’s great to see that they are looking up to me and they know I am here for advice whenever they need it.
I never realised that having someone to guide you is important but as a member of the Travelling Community our young people do not have very many role models to look up to and most of the time a nudge in the right direction is needed.
I find college relatively easy, but it is hard to balance my life commitments as a Traveller woman with college life. Not a lot of people in the community go to college, but it is something that has become extremely important to me.
College is hard, but I am determined, and I have got to stick it out! I first met Elaine Dennehy (Linked School Coordinator) in secondary school and Elaine has been a great support through my years in CIT, I used to ring Elaine constantly looking for information or any excuse really to talk about college! Elaine also informed me about financial assistance in CIT called the SAF fund to help with maintenance expenses during my time in CIT. Without this support I wouldn’t be able to attend college.
I’ve been lucky that I find Business second nature to me, I have been sailing through my exams and assignments. It has been a tough year, but I am passing everything.
There is a lot of pressure put on students to be a success but at the end of the day you can’t be successful at everything. People need to realise you’ve got to fall before you can walk and to count your blessings by counting each day as a step in the right direction, like I do.
The aim for my future is to open my own event management company. This is something I’ve been planning for years now, some day in my future I will have the job of my dreams and it is all because I chose to do better than what was expected of me as a person and not crack under to the pressures of those who didn’t believe I could do more. Hopefully, this will make me an even bigger role model for my younger cousins but also perhaps other Traveller girls as well.