Áine Murray

Within minutes of arriving into her first Sociology lecture at Maynooth University in September 2009, Áine Murray felt "at home".

I arrived into my first Sociology lecture at Maynooth University in September 2009 as a 46 year old mature student. Just minutes into the lecture I felt at ‘home’. I came out of that same lecture asking myself how I had managed to survive all these years in such a complex world! Many of the questions I had were at last being probed through a lens that made sense to me. And although I wasn’t getting easy answers I realised I was getting answers with substance. I was embarking on a path to developing independent critical thinking, a skill (a highly transferable one) that could help me probe social issues in a meaningful way.

For example, a big question for me is how has the gap between the wealthy and poor in developed countries widened so significantly over the past thirty years? Sociology is more a way of thinking about the world than any specific area. It has enabled me to understand the link between the individual and society. It has mobilised my capacity to explore key features of the social structures, politics, culture and trends in societies around the world. Sociology has also drawn together my personal interests, building on my life experiences and is enhancing the skills and competencies I have acquired to date. It is leading me forward to developing a new career where I can make a real contribution. Choosing to study Sociology at Maynooth University introduced me to ideologies and theories about the nature of social existence. It has given me insight in to the key structural barriers of social class, gender, race and ethnicity within our society. Ultimately, Sociology has developed my capacity to think critically about the world I live in.

My new-found sociological imagination can be difficult to quieten at times but then I guess that’s the point! I am looking forward to starting a two-year Masters in Social Work in Trinity College, Dublin in September 2013. I have no doubt but that the sociological grounding I have gained from some of the best critical thinkers in Ireland at the Sociology Department of Maynooth University will serve me well in my studies at TCD. My decision to return to full-time education to study sociology in 2009 was inspired by my ambition to become a professional social worker. Thankfully, I’m well on track to realising this ambition with the outstanding support of the Sociology Department at Maynooth University.