A young woman from the Traveller community in Cork who is the first in her family to progress to third-level education features in a new documentary about access to higher education.
Chrisdina O’Neill from Charleville is one of the seven students supported by university access and disability programmes to feature in My Uni Life, a 5-part documentary series by RTÉ and the Irish Universities Association (IUA).
Ms O’Neill is a Professional Masters of Education student at University College Cork (UCC).
“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,” she said.
Filmed over the last year, the series is an authentic insight into the lives of these seven students as they face personal challenges while trying to grapple with the move to remote learning due to the current pandemic.
Shaun Fogarty from Tipperary who studies computer science at the University of Limerick also features in My Uni Life.
His life and university experience transformed overnight after he was paralysed in an accident Despite a long recovery in hospital and the need for full-time care assistance, Shaun was determined to complete his education.
“I enjoyed filming the documentary and I feel it allowed me to demonstrate my ability to take part in a wide range of activities.” “I hope it shows that it’s possible to achieve your goals with hard work and perseverance.” The many access routes provided by universities are key to building a long-term inclusive society in Ireland, according to Jim Miley, director-general of the IUA.
“It is incredibly positive to see that in the 2017/18 academic year 15% of entrants were from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, while almost 10% of new entrants had some form of disability and 6.6% were mature students.”
“But, we have much more to do. It is paramount that we do everything possible to support increased access for all students who need it.”
Beginning on Friday, November 6 at 7.30 pm, the series will run for five weeks across RTÉ One featuring seven different students and their own personal journeys to higher education.