LYNN RUANE (27), from Killinarden in Tallaght, is a single parent of two girls aged 12 and five. She dropped out of school when she became pregnant at 15, but next September she will begin a degree in philosophy, political science, economics and sociology at Trinity College Dublin.
Ruane is one of 42 educationally disadvantaged students who graduated from the Trinity Access Programme foundation course yesterday, which will allow them to begin degree studies next year.
The 26 young adults and 16 mature students participated in a full-time year-long programme specialising in science, social science or arts, depending on the degree course that interests them.
TAP students are selected from areas with low participation rates in higher education such as Finglas, Ballymun, Tallaght and Ballyfermot. “The foundation course gives people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to go to university the chance to prepare themselves academically through extra classes, personally by building confidence in their abilities, and socially by creating a network of friends to help them feel comfortable in the university environment,” said TAP course co-ordinator Sarah Grimson. “What marks these people apart is their very high levels of motivation.”
Since the foundation courses were introduced in 1997, 96 per cent of graduates have progressed to degree studies, with 198 obtaining a degree from Trinity.
Ms Ruane said completing the foundation course and receiving her certificate was a proud achievement. “My family are excited too because none of us have gone through third-level education before. I have a 12-year-old daughter who is starting secondary school in September, and she’s already thinking about what courses she might do. Hopefully third-level education will become part of her everyday life.”
Journalist: Ciara Kenny