Student Stories

Casey McHugh

I grew up in a small village called Cranford in Co Donegal. Throughout my younger years, there was a lot of change. Before I turned 13, I had moved home five times. All within the same town, but because Cranford is such a small village, it felt like I had lived in every house in the area.

It was just myself, my older brother, my younger brother and my mam. My mam was doing her best to support all of us. She worked two jobs, one in a café and the other as a barmaid to keep us going.

Education was never a massive deal for my family. My parents didn’t receive a third level education. Some members of my extended family did, but they mostly went to Letterkenny IT in Donegal.

My Support

I really disliked living in Donegal, I wanted to get away. Secondary school wasn’t a particularly enjoyable part of my life. By the time my Leaving Certificate came around, I was desperate to go to college. Our careers teacher brought us to multiple open days in DCU and this is when I fell in love with the place. Having worked as the editor for the school magazine, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in journalism. When I became aware of the Communications course in DCU, I was determined to go there, even though I fully understood that living in Dublin was not something my family could afford.

Without my family there’s no way I would have been able to make it to higher education, they encouraged me to study as hard as I could for the Leaving Cert. When I got my offer to DCU, my mother suffered a serious injury to her leg and was unable to walk for several months, but she still insisted I go. She’s truly an inspiring woman and made sure I had all I needed to get to college.

My Journey

I’ve just completed my second year in DCU, and I have to say I could not be happier. DCU is unbelievably welcoming and everyone is so nice and friendly. I’ve met people here who I know are going to be friends for life. I never realised education could make me this happy.

I’m very proud to be a DCU Access student. I can safely say that Access has given me opportunities that no other programme in DCU could have ever offered, particularly in the field of employment, which supports me through college.

I work as an Access ambassador for DCU which obviously allows me to earn money, but also gives me the chance to learn more about DCU and meet new people within Access, who I am now proud to call my friends.

More recently, I was lucky enough to be selected to take part in the DCU Access to the Workplace programme. This is a new programme that gives Access students the opportunity to work in established companies over the summer. This is something that may not have been that easy for me or others to find, had the programme not been in place. I’ve just started my role with (Empathy Marketing Limited), which I am thoroughly enjoying.

I’m still quite unsure what I want to do when I’ve completed college. I think travelling would be perfect after my years of hard work. I’ll most likely go back to Dublin to work in the media sector (unless I fall in love with working somewhere else). If there’s one thing I know for sure, I’ll continue my positive relationship with DCU, as it’s shaped my life and made me the happiest, I’ve ever been.