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‘It’s never too late, the Access Course at NWRC transformed my life’

17 July 2018
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NWRC Adult Learner to take Bar Exam this year #startheregoanywhere A former student of North West Regional College who has just graduated from Ulster University with a First Class Honours Degree in Law, says the Access Course at NWRC’s Strand Road Campus completely “transformed his life.” Ciaran Boyle now plans to take the Bar Exam and become a barrister practising in human rights and other legal interest areas. He also plans to complete a Masters in Human Rights and Transitional Justice. The 33 year old revealed how he had left school with no GCSEs, dropping out at the beginning of his final year.He explained: “Not completing my education haunted me throughout my adult life, I felt incomplete and depressed. However, encouragement from my partner and others who stated I was too smart to be sitting with no education gave me the courage to act. “In 2014, NWRC opened the door for me to attend university after one year of intense study via the Access Diploma in Combined Studies. This was the first successful educational endeavour since leaving secondary school in 2001. “It was daunting returning to college. I felt that I had been written off by peers and teachers, and I did not deserve to be there, and I had left it to late to turn it around. “The negativity was quickly put to rest after speaking with NWRC lecturers who encouraged me and convinced me to challenge myself. I started believing that I was better than I was taught to believe I was, and I could do this. The support was exceptional. The lecturers understood my needs but also spotted my potential very early on. A very negative experience of education was quickly transferred into something positive that I really enjoyed. The atmosphere was entirely different and I got on well with lecturers and fellow students who were also very inspiring. I met many new friends who still keep in touch.” Half way through his course Ciaran was given the devastating news that he had a tumour in his neck. He continued: “I was hospitalised for six weeks with a life threatening condition that was caused by a large tumour situated in my neck which had to be surgically removed. This meant that I missed a lot of lectures. Despite this, the lecturers keep in touch and sent me materials and reassuring words to keep me going and up to date in hospital. Without this support I would not have been able to complete the course. “Student Services played an important role in supporting me financially and were always there when needed.” After passing the Access Course with distinction, Ciaran went on to start a Law Degree at Magee. “This was a major achievement for me as I never imagined becoming a law student in my wildest dreams,” he said. “It was something that I had longed for and I had always wanted to do. NWRC had opened the door and mapped the route for success and taught me how to believe in myself and achieve. “On completing the first semester of my first year at Ulster University it was clear that was I well prepared for university study. The access course had successfully implanted the skills needed for me to excel quickly. I was ahead of most of my year group and was achieving top grades throughout the year. The access course is structured to prepare a student for university life, everything from writing styles to analytical thinking is covered. A complete toolbox for university level education. One notable skill developed at NWRC was the ability to respect other viewpoints and examine them without necessarily agreeing with them, this key skill was crucial to my success at university. I highly recommend this course to other students, especially those who had a similar experience of education earlier on in life and want another opportunity. It is never too late to turn it around and my story is a testament to that. The staff at NWRC are extremely professional and understanding. They thrive from hearing how well their former students are doing and enjoy transforming people lives through education. The access course can open the door academic progression and better job opportunities. After completing the course, I was much more likely to be invited for interview and offered the job as employers are aware of merits of the access course and he transferable skills that are created. I am forever thankful to the NWRC for the support and encouragement given to me during my time there. The staff are amazing and have completely transformed my life. Had the course not been available to me, the door to my dream of studying law would have been closed off or impossible.”
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