‘My Uni Life’ encourages people to dream big

By: November 3, 2020

‘My Uni Life’, which will begin on November 6 on RTÉ One, is a five-part series created in partnership between RTÉ and the Irish Universities Association, following the lives of seven students at various stages of their university experience.

The series aims to spotlight the unique path into education for more than 5,000 students each year; whose desire to succeed at third level is expedited and supported by the Access and Disability programmes run by Irish universities.

The show will document the seven students’ journeys through university life, from dealing with the challenges of having a disability to the stereotypes associated with socially disadvantaged backgrounds and having the courage to go to university at a later stage in life.

The series will also capture the highs and lows of being a student during the pandemic. The program will follow the students as they grapple with the move to remote learning while navigating through personal challenges.

Break down barriers
First up to share her story as a UCC student is Chrisdina O’Neill – a Professional Masters of Education student from Charleville, Co. Cork. Chrisdina is from the Traveller community and is the first in her family to progress to third level.

“Taking part in the documentary has meant a lot to me as it was initially a very daunting prospect, but after considering it, I then knew that it would be for the betterment of the Traveller community,” says Chrisdina, pictured.

“Getting to share my experience of university was so important to break down the barriers and stigma around university within marginalised communities.”

University is for everyone if they want it
Also featuring is first-year International Development student, Denise Kelleher, from Mayfield.

Reflecting on her experience of participating in the documentary, Denise says: “It was great to show that no matter your background, access to university is for everyone.

“It was also good to give my mam and dad a shout-out for encouraging me to do my best in school. Without their support and extra push, I would never have carried on with my education.”

Resilient, determined, talented students
In 2019, nearly 1,000 first-year students entered one of the top universities, UCC, via alternative access routes from under-represented groups. Over the last four years, 897 students have registered at UCC through the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR), with over 978 students entering through the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE).

Commenting on the potential impact of the documentary, Olive Byrne, head of Access and Participation, says, “Access services enable students to enter through the gates of university, and engage in all aspects of university life.

“This documentary will share inspiring stories of resilient, determined, talented students who have unlocked their potential as a result of accessing third-level education. These stories will encourage and enthuse parent, teachers and adults across the country to nurture the potential of our future students and encourage them to dream big!”

My Uni Life begins on Friday, November 6 at 7:30pm on RTÉ One. It will run for five weeks, featuring seven different students.

For more information on the series, visit www.iua.ie/myunilife.