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Pathways To a Brighter Future in Third Level Education

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Pathways To a Brighter Future in Third Level Education

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) was proud to recently hold the student graduations of their Pathways Community Education Programme. This fantastic initiative is run in conjunction with Louth Local Development and its purpose is to introduce students back into a learning environment whilst supporting them with ease of access into Higher Education.

The Pathways Programme is delivered on an outreach basis in participants’ own communities, venues this year included the Barbican Centre, Drogheda and Dundalk Gaol. Delivering this programme in the community supports an intimate experience for students to build their confidence and get a feeling of what college would be like in a safe and non-intimidating space.

The graduation proceedings kicked off with warm welcomes to all from Johdi Quinn, Lecturer & DkIT Coordinator of the Pathways & Headstart Programmes along with Christina King who is Youth and Education Coordinator for Louth Local Development (LLD).

The attendees were then addressed by Dr Sheila Flanagan Vice President for Academic Affairs and Registrar, who spoke about DkIT’s passion for offering access to education for all, she said “We hold this course very dear to our heart in DkIT, we are invested in our community and region and offering learners the tools they need to build confidence to succeed in life”.  

Dr Flanagan was followed by Maeve Harkin, SICAP Social Inclusion Manager, LLD who spoke about the close relationship and partnership between DkIT and LLD that enables students to flourish on these initiatives, Maeve noted “we have had a record number of participants this year, and the number of students is a testament to the close bonds and quality of relationships we have with all that are involved in this initiative”.

Dr. Patricia Moriarty, Head of School of Business and Humanities, DkIT took to the podium to add encouraging words of celebration for the graduates’ achievements which was aptly followed by the presentation of Certificates to all the programme’s participants.

The attendees then heard from the most important guests of the day, the students, through a ‘Learners Voice’ session that was facilitated by Eileen McDermott, Education & Community Development Officer, LLD. One of the students who participated, Abby, stood up to give feedback and said “before doing the Pathway course, I could never have stood up in front of you all, this course was such a special opportunity, on the first day we were all tense, but it quickly felt like family and home. I feel I’ve much more confidence which has given me clarity for the future. The knowledge we have received has deeply impacted us all as a group. This is such a great starting point for the future! Thank you for giving us all this growth mindset”

Dr Brian Boyd Head of Dept of Business Studies, DkIT who is a long time support and advocate of the Pathways and Headstart programmes brought the proceedings to a close.

Johdi Quinn DkIT said “Pathways has gone from strength to strength since it began 8 years ago. I celebrate all the graduates today who decided to take that one first courageous step towards fulfilling their dreams and going back to education.  Once they make that initial decision, they realise that each subsequent step is a bit easier and that DkIT and LLD are here to support them academically, emotionally and practically.  I couldn't be prouder of our 2024 Pathways graduates who have shown so much courage, resilience and kept coming back”.

The follow-on programme from Pathways is the Headstart course, which is aimed at those with an interest in pursuing Higher Education and comprises of a 10- week exploration of study skills, including, academic writing, presentation skills, group work, time management, learning to learn, career guidance and assignment feedback. This programme starts again on Campus for 1 morning a week in October 2024.

Graduates from Pathways and Headstart programmes have gone on to pursue DkIT degrees in programmes such as Social Care, Community Youth Work, Arts, Audio & Music Production, Creative Media, Hospitality Management, International Tourism, General Nursing, Mental Health Nursing and Early Childhood Studies. Many graduates have also secured employment because of having completed this programme.

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