BY SEÁN P. FEENY
MARISSA (9), Conall (7) and Aodhan (3) were jumping for joy at the Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB) at Ard O’Donnell, Letterkenny, on Wednesday morning.
Their mother Adele Dempsey from Letterkenny had just collected her Leaving certificate results having gone back to study for her exams two years ago.
Adele said she was ‘over the moon’ with her results, especially as she had also recently been accepted on to the general nursing degree course at Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) commencing in September.
The mother-of-three said: “I left school at the age of 15 and worked full-time until the birth of my first child Marissa. I decided to go back and do my Leaving, as how can I tell my children it’s important, if I didn’t do it myself.
“It’s been an exciting morning for the whole family, especially for the children who are very excited that their mother is now going to study to become a nurse.
“I’m so thrilled to have been accepted into general nursing at LYIT, a lot of my friends have done it and said it’s a fantastic course,” said Adele.
Another of the 19 students who studied for their Leaving with Donegal ETB, was Philip Rodgers, originally from Burtonport, but living in Letterkenny.
When the construction industry died down and there was not much work as a brick layer, Philip said he did various jobs before he decided it was time to get back into education.
“I am definitely delighted I went back and did it. I’d recommend it to anyone. I have a lot of good prospects now, but first I’m looking forward to tell my wife and children the good news.”
Students come from all over the county to study for their Leaving certificate at Donegal ETB in Letterkenny. There were another to great examples in this year’s class, proving that some people are really willing to ‘go the distance’ for their education.
Paul McLaughlin travelled from Malin every day. Having left school at 16 to become a plumber, Paul decided to go back to education upon his return from a spell in Australia and not being able to secure regular work back home.
“It’s definitely worthwhile going back. I’ve applied for the Garda Reserve, but my ultimate ambition is to join An Garda Siochána.”
Another ETB graduate to travel from further afield was Sharon Gallagher from Meenlaragh, Gortahork who said there was no stopping her now that she has her Leaving.
“I never did my Leaving in the first place so it was always something in the back of my head, but I put it off for years, until two years ago when I said to myself ‘now or never’.
“I’m not 100 per cent sure what I am going to do now, I am still waiting for a few calls, but one thing’s for sure, there’s no stopping me now,” she laughed.
Aine McLaughlin, County Co-ordinator for the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) Programme at the Letterkenny Adult Education Training Centre said there has been a lot of success stories in the programme’s 25 years.
“We have had students go on to become pharmacists, primary and secondary school teachers and more; All-Ireland winning Donegal Manager Jim McGuinness was a student of ours too.
“This year’s group of 19 students were aged from 18 to 50 and the staff, teachers Marian Gallagher, Rosemary McHugh, Mary McGrath, Joanne Higgins and Guidance Counsellor Mairead McFadden, congratulate them all on their fantastic achievement,” she said.
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