Highlighting my time in Maynooth can never be complete without me starting with explaining how exciting it was to be invited to interviews, accepted and to experience my first day in Maynooth. I embraced everything completely. I won't pretend I had an easy time at all. I had a scholarship kindly offered by three amazing Irish women who put their monies together and paid my tuition fees which were non-Irish fees and high. However, I had to work two and sometimes three part time jobs the whole three years I was doing my undergrad. In my second year there were times I felt like quitting my early morning cleaning job which I did for two to three hours every morning before going to college. Overall I survived it due to the warmth and support of the Applied Social Studies Department, student services, staff, heath centre staff and fellow students in the course. Today I look back and know that it didn't just happen. I don't know if I can swear that I would have got the same support elsewhere. Maybe, maybe not.
My scholarship was from private sponsors but I appeared in the One Foundation Scholars list as my sponsors were affiliated with the organisation.
The warmth of the staff and support was just amazing. Also as a mature student I didn't feel I had to pretend I afforded a sandwich everyday. The university and the department were inclusive in this sense. There were places with microwaves and kettles for those who could only afford to bring their own lunches from home.
To start with, that people can be anything they dream to be and can stay in education if they get the tailored support they need. I've also gained knowledge, skills and enhanced my values, everything that is needed to work with and empower marginalised groups to be their own voices and advocates in relation to issues facing them in their own communities or life in general. We all are capable of this, but sometimes we need a little help here or there and encouragement that we are capable.
It is a life-changing degree. It is not something you can do in college and leave it there at the end of the lecture. It is something that once you do it, it goes everywhere with you. This degree does not allow you to continue seeing injustices and inequalities and be a spectator, it urges you to intervene even when 'off-duty'. Working with marginalised groups on its own can be tough. Witnessing people totally excluded from decision making structures can make you angry but witnessing long term impact of that can be shattering and a lot to take for many people but thankfully we also had support in the department in terms of minding ourselves during this line of work. Overall it is very rewarding and makes one connected to the wider world.