Name: Ciaran Lockhart
Course: NCTJ Diploma in Journalism
Meet Ciaran Lockhart who returned to education at the age of 35 with North West Regional College and now works as a freelance journalist.
I'd like to say to anyone who was like me, sitting on the fence and wondering if they can do it, that anything is possible. The opportunity is always there, you just have to go for it!
What was your previous education?
I went to Belfast to study History & Politics when I finished school. I lived in a student house but I was young and immature, I wasn’t really ready for university and I dropped out. I loved playing basketball and I got the opportunity to work full-time with an American charity, coaching the sport to school children.
At the time I wasn’t worried about qualifications. However, the funding dried up and with it, my career prospects. I then began working in retail.
Why did you decide to return to education?
My wife Kate is a nurse. When her maternity leave was coming to an end and she was due to return to work, we sat down and did our sums with regard to childcare. We realised that it made more sense financially for me to stay at home. So that’s what I did until our girls were old enough for school. I loved being at home with my girls Niamh and Aoibheann and having that quality time with them.
When that time was up and the girls were starting school, I was thinking about going back into retail employment. Kate and I talked and we decided that now was the time to re-train and really pursue a career that I wanted. If I didn’t do it then I probably never would.
Why did you choose journalism?
I had always thought about journalism when I was younger and it was an itch that I had never scratched. I applied to NWRC’s Professional Diploma in Journalism, got an interview and was accepted. The course fitted around the kids’ schedule, along with a lot of help from the grannies for childcare.
Before I went back to college I always had this feeling that I had missed out, and that without qualifications I wasn’t contributing to society. Being a stay at home Dad, I had let myself become isolated and had struggled with my self-esteem.
I studied for four days a week at NWRC which was great for me because I still had one day a week to look after the girls.
What advice would you give to someone looking to return to education?
I would like to say to anyone who was like me, sitting on the fence and wondering if they can do it, that anything is possible. The opportunity is always there, you just have to go for it!
What are you doing now?
I’m now working in Communications and also a freelance journalist.