I enrolled on the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Community, Youth and Family Studies after a career break to look after my family. Although I had never studied at third level before, I looked forward to where my academic journey would take me with an open and inquisitive mind.
The degree was delivered on a part-time basis. From the start, the Course Directors understood adult learners’ needs and commitments and were very supportive. My peers, of varying age, were from diverse backgrounds. We had all experienced very different life experiences which made for lively and informative classroom debate.
Although I enjoyed all aspects of the course, I found the youth and family modules most interesting. In the second year of the course, I started work in a family support role where I was able to transfer my theoretical knowledge into workplace skills grounded in best practice.
The degree also taught me how to analyse information and put forward a robust academic argument. So for me, the course’s real highlight was the opportunity to learn research skills, taught in gradual steps over the four years. As students, we were encouraged to research our own choice of subjects in keeping with community, youth and family studies which culminated in a final year thesis. This aspect of the course led to my interest in ethical research practice and I now sit on the nationwide Child and Family Agencies Research Ethics Committee.
The course also equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to apply for further academic study. After completing my degree, I applied to Trinity College, Dublin, to study for a Master of Science. I won scholarship funding based on my academic achievements at NUI Galway. In keeping with my interest in family studies, I am currently undertaking a study involving mothers who experience addiction.
My academic journey at NUI Galway also inspired my passion for lifelong learning. I went on to qualify as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and I hope to return to NUI Galway in a teaching role one day to encourage and inspire other learners.
When I first signed up for the degree in Community, Youth and Family studies, I could not have imagined the career or academic opportunities presented to me. So all I can say is that it is never too late to start your academic journey.
Enjoy every minute, it will fly by!
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