Graduate starts full-time degree course
Tracey Reilly left school early due to negative experiences at school. Following time on a Community Employment Scheme in Pavee Point she applied for the NUI Community Work in a Changing Ireland Certificate Course.
Husband and wife teams, Hughie and Ann Friel; Tracey and Patrick Reilly
“I had learned a lot working in Pavee Point but this course really gave me a good grounding in the theory of Community Development. I think this will really help me in my work because you know the background to the work you’re doing. Doing this course also encouraged me to apply for a degree course in Maynooth and I was delighted to find out this week I’ve been accepted for the BSocSc in Youth and Community Work and start in September.”
Breaking down barriers
One of this year’s graduates, Ann Friel, said: “Taking part in this programme was of huge benefit to me, and I’m really proud to have achieved my Certificate. I hope to use what I have learned throughout this programme to be an advocate and leader in my community, and play my part in breaking down the barriers between Travellers and the rest of Irish society.”
Bringing learning to the Roma Community
Tica Muntean moved to Ireland from Romania in 2000 with his wife and son. When they arrived, Tica became involved with speaking up for his community. He is currently working with Pavee Point and the Kildare Roma Interagency Group. Taking part in this course represented his first time in accessing third level education.
“I think I learned a lot about working with the community on this course,” he said. “I worked in the community before, but now I can bring back what I learned on this course. It was also good to meet other community workers from around the country and to hear about their experiences".
Maynooth University President, Professor Philip Nolan congratulated the graduates and Pavee Point for its continued determination in progressing Traveller and Roma rights and on its partnership with Maynooth in this work. He also commended the ongoing commitment of the Department of Applied Social Studies for its innovative approach to outreach, as well as the Access Office for its continued capacity to ensure that its efforts focus on those most excluded.
“Acknowledgement of Traveller ethnicity has rightly created a new confidence and new targets to be achieved. Travellers and Roma have a right to university education and the potential it can unlock, and at Maynooth University we are committed and determined to play our part in making this the norm. We look forward to further engagement with this community to achieve our shared objectives,” said Professor Nolan.
Community Work in a Changing Ireland is one of a number of programmes developed by the Department of Applied Social Studies to give marginalised communities greater access to third level education.
These programmes are offered on an outreach basis with the support and sponsorship of community-based partner organisations, and cover topics such as community care, youth justice and management and leadership. In this case, Maynooth University worked closely with Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre to deliver the course.
Great sense of positivity – Minister
David Stanton, Minister for State at the Department of Justice and Equality, which also supported the programme, commented: “This graduation event in Maynooth University is an immensely proud moment for the twenty-four students as they receive their Certificates in Community Work. “I feel a great sense of positivity for the Traveller and Roma communities in Ireland today, when I see these terrific representatives who have clearly demonstrated the high level of commitment required to graduate.”
The graduates, all of whom are mature students, each completed a minimum of 100 hours of study to achieve their certificates. The course included modules on community work, youth justice, equality, human rights and management and organisation, and was designed to prepare the students as leaders and advocates for their communities. A key goal for the programme is to empower graduates to act as mediators between their communities and the wider Irish society, allowing for greater communication and understanding of each other’s issues and needs.
The 24 graduates now hold a Level 7 Special Purpose Award, which will enhance their work and contributions to their communities, and can act as an access route to further studies and degree courses.
Photos by Derek Speirs