Student turned tutor - how a 10-week Introduction to Psychology night class changed the life of one participantRead Now
‘Adult education completely changed my life’
Deirdre Delaney is a big supporter of adult education – “it completely changed my life”, she says.
At 40, as a single mother, she went back to college, having worked in telecoms in different roles for years. “Whilst my work latterly involved account management and managing a call centre, it was all about people, and I always harboured a desire to study psychology and to go back to college.”
With redundancy on the horizon, she completed a 10-week Introduction to Psychology night class – “I knew then psychology was what I wanted to do”. Another night class in psychology followed and that took her to UCD as a mature student to study, yes, psychology! “Then I did a Certificate in Counselling before completing a post-graduate course in psychotherapy.”
Adult education helped Deirdre to change her career completely – from telecoms to psychotherapy and then tutoring. “I accidentally got into tutoring – I approached the adult education director in The Donahies Community School about delivering an Introduction to Psychology night class. In the meantime, I was also approached by NUI Maynooth to deliver the Certificate in Psychology and that runs in Scoil Mhuire, Clane Community School, Co Kildare.
Deirdre is also involved in an education outreach initiative offered by NUI Maynooth, called Communiversity. It offers a first point of contact for people who would not normally think of university as a place for them. Run in libraries one morning a week, Communiversity has been successfully rolled out in Dublin areas which have been identified as having low participation rates in higher education.
That sense of opening up lifelong learning to everyone is vital to Deirdre. “When I run a class, I tell my own story, because it’s important for people to see that all things are possible. After school, life happens to us, we stop writing essays, and we think we’re past it. We become terrified that we’re not good enough.
“But, as adults, we bring so much to education, we bring our life experience and ability to juggle things. We bring maturity and a focus to what we’re studying and a level of motivation – usually, we study something for our careers or to something we love.
“For me, I was terrified that first semester in UCD. I was in a class with people not much older than my daughter at the time. But once I got through those first Christmas exams, I loved it. I had the best three years of my life!”