TV series follows two UCC students
“Getting to share my experience of university was so important to break down the barriers and stigma around university within marginalised communities.”
Those are the words of Chrisdina O’Neill from the Traveller community as she spoke about being part of a television documentary which followed the lives of seven students at various stages of their university experience.
Chrisdina is the first in her family to progress to third level and is one of two UCC students to feature in the RTÉ documentary which charts their path to third level education through the university’s Access and Participation programme.
‘My Uni Life’ will begin on 6 November at 7.30pm on RTÉ One and is a five-part series created in partnership between RTÉ and the Irish Universities Association.
The series looks at the path into education for more than 5,000 students each year, whose desire to succeed at third level is facilitated and supported by the Access and Disability programmes run by Irish universities.
The show will document seven students’ journeys through university life, from dealing with the challenges of having a disability to the stereotypes associated with socially disadvantaged backgrounds, and having the courage to go to university at a later stage in life.
The series will also capture the highs and lows of being a student during the pandemic. Shot over the past 12 months, the show will follow the students as they grapple with the move to remote learning while navigating through personal challenges.
First up to share her story is Chrisdina who is a Professional Masters of Education student from Charleville.
She said: “Getting to share my experience of university was so important to break down the barriers and stigma around university within marginalised communities.”
Also featuring is first year International Development student, Denise Kelleher from Mayfield. Reflecting on her experience of participating in the documentary, Denise said: “It was great to show that no matter your background, university is for everyone.
“It was also good to give my mam and dad a shout-out for encouraging me to do my best in school. Without their support and extra push, I would never have carried on with my education.”
In 2019, nearly 1,000 first year students entered UCC via alternative access routes from under-represented groups.
Olive Byrne, Head of Access and Participation, said: “This documentary will share inspiring stories of resilient, determined, talented students who have unlocked their potential as a result of accessing third level education.
“These stories will encourage and enthuse parent, teachers and adults across the country to nurture the potential of our future students and encourage them to dream big!”