Eliza Karolina Tomcyzk
A student who participated in MAP Shadowing Programme before coming to college
Currently I am the second year’s student of BBA Marketing, here in Maynooth University and I I love every day of it. It all started because I had attended the shadowing day organised by the Mature Students Office. I was a little bit nervous coming in and remember thinking: is it even worth? Anyway I gave it a try and then everything started.
First of all it was a very nice thing to offer us coffee in the morning and create the opportunity for conversation with other people, to hear their stories and get familiar with their faces. It was a great feeling to know somebody in the first days of lecturers!
Secondly, it was a real taste of what we could have expected from the University. The Shadowing Day allows the future students to attend the lectures which are a part of their course and confront the expectations. I had my threshold set rather high, coming from an excellent VTOS course but the first lecture that I was offered to attend was so much better than what I had been imagining. The lecture was amazing, energetic, full of knowledge and very engaging. If I would have had any doubts about my choice of Maynooth and Marketing in particular, they would have been gone after this experience.
Another big advantages of the Shadowing Day were:
- Hearing about the Maynooth reality from actual students, and it was so much easier to ask them questions than to look for the answer from the staff.
- Knowing your way around the University- because of shadowing day I knew the difference between Callan building and Callan Hall long before I have to walk in one of them.
- Knowing about where to look for support, how to find your ways in the library and where to eat.
My most magical moment was experiencing the atmosphere of South Campus, where beauty of architecture plus years of tradition make you fall in love with the place instantly.
Current Maynooth University Student
I am currently in my final year of a three year course in Psychology, and am really enjoying it. I am definitely grateful that I took the leap and returned to college. I had moved to China as a result of the recession in 2009, and came home when I had my son. It wasn’t as easy as I had hoped to get a job in the legal field, where I had been working before I left, and I realised that I would have to re-train to get a job. I had always had an interest in psychology, and actually had applied to study this subject in Maynooth straight out of my Leaving Cert.
I ended up coming back to that same course 13 years after first applying for it. Many people think that it is harder to come back to education after being out for so long, but my experience has been the opposite. My life experience and knowledge has helped me with a lot of the course work, and there are amazing supports at Maynooth for the academic element of college, which could have otherwise been a struggle. My first taste of that was the essay writing course offered to mature students by the University. This took place over a week in June, and covered many aspects of college life which were very helpful, including how to write an essay by building your points, how to reference correctly and how to use the library to find resources. It was also a great opportunity to meet other people in the same situation. I made friends with people on my essay course that I am still friends with two years later.
As well as being good for my career and professional development, I also feel that college has changed me personally. I was the President of the Parents’ Society for a year and also served as the Mature Student Representative on the Student Council for a year. To begin with, I was anxious that I would be seen as the “old one”, but can honestly say that I have never felt excluded or different because of my age.
The atmosphere of inclusion in Maynooth is a wonderful thing to be part of. Staff are very understanding and more than happy to help with any issues or queries students may have. The entry process was a bit daunting, as it also involved a CAO application. On receipt of this application, I was called for a written assessment. Following successful completion of that, I was then called for an interview. While this process was tough, it gave me a better understanding of what was needed to be successful in college, and I am very grateful for it. The more research you have done about the course you are interested in, the better off you will be during this process.
MAP Inspirational Alumni Award Winner
I was reared in Neilstown in Clondalkin and left school at 15 to become a painter. I had no Leaving Cert and never dreamed I would attend a university. One day in September 2007 I went to work, climbed 30ft up my ladder and fell. I fractured some vertebrae in my back, damaged my right arm and shoulder and ended up in a bit of a mess which left me with a physical disability. While in rehabilitation it was suggested to me I do a computer course and that’s how I began my educational journey. I started with my Junior Cert in 2008, progressed through the FETAC levels and did a Certificate in Psychology in Maynooth in 2009. Due to the economic crash and my disability, I knew I could no longer work as a painter. I needed to make myself more employable so I wanted to go further in education.
I started to research degree courses and attended many university open days. I quickly became aware that Maynooth University had an impeccable record for mature students and my mind was made up. I engaged with the frightening experience of the CAO application process and was interviewed for the BA degree. I was honoured to be accepted and I chose to study Anthropology, Sean Gaelige and Philosophy. While I loved being a student, it was far from an ‘easy ride’ and I would never have made it without the support of my amazing family and the supports in place within the University. The logistics of being a mature student attending a full time degree course is certainly challenging and can have implications on you, your family and your finances. I found the academic work, being in large lecture halls and just being back in education, daunting and very challenging. However, with good time management skills, availing of the supports on campus, using my life experience and ‘staying on top’ of my work, it was possible. I graduated in 2013 with first class honours in my degree.
Because education had transformed my life I decided I would like to help others in education so I then took the Higher Diploma in Adult, Community and Further Education. Following this I managed to gain employment as a teacher in a further education centre. Throughout my studies I have been involved in much volunteer work. I became a volunteer with the ILI programme on campus and did some other volunteer work off campus. Starting up and developing the Celtic Studies Society was a brilliant experience for me and other students. I also became class rep and sat on the students union council as the mature student representative. Going to a university in China for two weeks in the summer of 2014 was another amazing experience alongside helping out with conferences held within the Anthropology and Philosophy departments. In the second year of my degree, I independently researched an ancient burial mound in the west of Ireland. My research uncovered several findings which enhanced and enlightened the previous work done on this mound, which is now recorded in the National History and Archaeology museum of Ireland and the subsequent article I wrote has been provisionally accepted for publication. All these were only possible because of the supports in place and the wonderful experience of attending Maynooth University.
All of this, alongside my work teaching adults, caused me to look at several things outside of my own ‘rose-tinted’ view of the world such as the struggles for social justice, human rights, inclusion, and gender and sexuality equality. I was awarded the Extra-Curricular Activities award in 2013 for my work in enhancing the reputation of Maynooth University, locally and internationally, while maintaining a high level of academic achievement. My academic achievements - a first class honour in my Higher Diploma and a second class honour in my Master’s degree in Adult and Community Education resulted in me being awarded the John and Pat Hume scholarship to complete a PhD.
In 2016 I was also awarded the prestigious ‘MAP Alumni Achievement Award’ which is in place to honour MAP (Maynooth University Access Programme) students who progress to inspirational and exciting careers and who are inspirational to future generations of students. My advice to potential students: you need to work hard but you should also get involved in as many activities as you can, as you can have so much fun, create so many memories and experiences and make lifelong friends. I would never have believed that the day I fell from the top of my ladder that two years later I would be starting to climb the educational ladder - from the Junior Cert in 2008, to a PhD in 2016.