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Mark secured a place at St Mary’s University College on the BEd (Hons) Business degree (Post-Primary Education).

Mark attended St Colm’s High School in Twinbrook where he succeeded in achieving 10 GCSEs. He and his peers actually petitioned the principal to introduce a Vocational Certificate in Education in ICT. (VCE is equivalent to 1 ‘A’ level). Mark completed an VCE in ICT , the Advanced VCE in Business Studies and AS level Politics. He was determined to succeed and he secured a place at St Mary’s University College on the BEd (Hons) degree in Business. Mark describes how he eventually decided on a career in teaching.

"Its funny, career wasn’t a word in my vocabulary in school, in fact the moment it all changed stands out in my memory and it took place during 5th year and my mock interviews. I completed the application form for a joinery job as most of my family were in the trade. Following the mock interview I received feedback from two panel members. One panel member said ‘Mark, whatever you do please reconsider a joinery career as you have so much to offer’. This struck a cord and set the wheels in motion for me to investigate other careers. I realised I had the potential. I wanted to be able to give something back and try to make a difference just like they (my teachers) had made a difference to me, so I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher. I just knew that I had to work twice as hard as everyone else to achieve it.

St Mary’s University College is a truly great place and I’m very proud that I attend this academic institution - but I have to say my greatest achievement was in progressing from my secondary school (where progression to university was not the norm). I worked hard, it just shows what someone can do if they put their mind to it.

The ‘icing on the cake’ was my school experience as I returned to my old school St Colm’s. It was both an honour and a privilege to teach in the school that had done so much for me.

Higher education may not be for everyone, I certainly didn’t think it was for me. If you had asked me if I would be attending university when I was preparing for GCSE’s, I would have laughed. I thought university was for the intellectual elite but with determination and hard work here I am! I would advise anyone who was unsure about Higher education to consider it and at least look at what is on offer."

“People either don’t know what is out there, or like me, don’t believe it’s out there for them.”

Anne secured a place at St Mary’s University College on the BA (Hons) Liberal Arts programme with Geography.

Anne left St Louise’s Comprehensive College with commendable A level grades. 

In the first, second and third years of her degree programme Anne participated in geography fieldwork in Ballycastle (local people and landscapes) and Mallorca (global dimension). She found the fieldwork very beneficial as it reinforced her learning and enabled her to forge good friendships with her peers.

As part of the Human Development element of her degree programme Anne undertook a work based learning module. In her first year she participated in a series of industrial visits to a diverse range of organisations and in the following years she undertook short term work placements with Bavarian (BMW) Garages in Belfast and Invest NI.

“I work shadowed departmental managers, undertook a variety of tasks and gained an insight into the daily operations of different departments. I enjoyed both placements as I gained invaluable experience and skills.”

Upon graduating Anne commenced full time employment as a supervisor within a large UK retail organisation.

Kathy successfully secured a place at St Mary’s University College on the BA (Hons) in Liberal Arts with Religious Studies.

Kathy had always wanted to teach.  She completed ‘A’ levels at St Patrick’s College Banbridge achieving grades BBE in Religion,History and Biology. She was unable to take a place on the BEd (Hons) Post-Primary in Religious studies, however rather than resit she decided to commence the BA (Hons) in the Liberal Arts. 

“I didn’t know what to expect from this LA degree as I had focused on the BEd and I was particularly anxious about European studies and Human development studies as these were new topics for me.”

Kathy graduated with a First class BA (Hons) in Liberal Arts. She was awarded the BA in Liberal Arts Perpetual Cup which recognised her high level of academic achievement and her proven commitment to the European ideal. The degree provided her with a new perspective on our world, on globalisation, on the European ideal, on citizenship, on business, on entrepreneurship and on academic excellence.  Kathy felt that her Liberal Arts degree increased her European and cultural awareness and enhanced her personal effectiveness as it enabled her to explore a variety of vocational areas. She still wanted to become a teacher.

Following her graduation from St Mary's Kathy successfully completed her Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Queen's University, and is a serving teacher.