Tracy O'Shaughnessy

Graduating 2013

I started at Maynooth University in 2010 as a return to learning student. Following on from this I became a full time mature student studying Sociology alongside Social Policy as part of the B.A. Social Science. To describe my journey at Maynooth University in 3 words, I would have to say: ‘healing’ ‘inspirational’ and ‘rewarding’. Upon reflection, I remember when I wrote my very first Sociology essay I felt lost for words. I had many moments of panic because I struggled with the meaning of the word Sociology. However, I took action and I started to engage more with the lecturers especially during consultation hours. I found this one-to-one teaching really grounded me. This degree would not have been achievable without the guidance and support of a number of people within the Sociology Department at Maynooth University. Sociology gave me the ability to see life from a different perspective.

I see the inequalities present in our everyday lives, predominantly played out within our education system. Keeping this point in mind, I have one very significant story that I would like to share with you. During my second year, I took a module in Sociology on ‘structures of inequality, class, race and gender’. This module inspired me so much insofar as it gave me insight into the broader aspects of inequality within our institutions. This module gave me the courage to challenge the education system in relation to issues around inequality concerning my son. I felt empowered to fight for my son’s educational rights. As a result, my fifteen year old son will have better educational outcomes upon leaving secondary school. He is now rightfully in the class that he deserves to be in. I have grown from a girl who was afraid to write her first Sociology essay, to one who has no fear in challenging the education system for the rights of her child. Inspired by Nelson Mandela who said ‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’ I now plan to study for a H.Dip in Adult Education at Maynooth University.