College Connect Launch 2019

Over the past few months the work that was being conducted by the College Connect has led to the official launch of the College Connect programme. The launch was a celebration of the community that the programme is working with. It was an opportunity to showcase the talents and ambition in the community. Throughout the launch in the Rotunda, Pillar Room, Dublin, the voice of students and future students were heard (and listened to).

At the beginning of the launch Emma Gilcreest the Director of the College Connect programme shared with the audience the ambitious vision and mission of the programme.

Our vision is a student population that reflects and respects the diversity of the community in our region.

Our mission is to change who goes to college by working together as education providers and communities. This new partnership will empower future students to make informed choices and fulfil their potential.

Throughout the launch the five-key actions of the programme were described and demonstrated. Each action has been put in place to ensure that the vision and mission of College Connect can become a reality.

College Connect launched their website collegeconnect.ie. This website has been developed to motivate, inspire and support a future student in their journey to and through college. It provides them with the tools to help them find the right route into college as well as the financial supports that they can avail of.

The College Connect team demonstrated the importance of the student voice, and how important it is to have a peer mentor or role model during the journey to and through college.

The mentoring aspect of the programme is a collaborative process between a potential future student and a current student within one of the four participating colleges. College Connect believes, (with the support of research) the quote ‘if you can see it, you can be it’.

‘It only takes one positive encounter for college to become a real option for someone’ student ambassador

During the launch it was acknowledged that there are several pathways to college, but they can be confusing and nearly impossible to enter for some members of the communities that the programme is working with. College Connect intends to recommend more direct entry routes to college to ensure that the campuses reflect the diversity in the region.

College Connect intends to be become a familiar brand. This is so that people are aware that the College Connect is there to support and guide the future student to enter college.

Research is a central part of the College Connect. College Connect is working with the community to develop community focused, peer lead research to identify the barriers to and experience of education, to create recommendations to support people to enter college.

During the event the first of the community peer lead research reports were launched. This was on behalf of prisoners and former prisoners. It was conducted with the support of the Pathways Centre, which provides an inclusive learning environment for former prisoners. The report can be found on the research section of the collegeconnect.ie website.

“What we do is important but how we do it is more so” Maria Joyce

To end the celebration of the community and launch of the College Connect programme the members of the audience were invited to listen to the magical voice of Sharyn Ward. She sang us out with a rendition of Fields of Athenry, the way it was always meant to be heard.