Naoise Davey

Restarting education is a big step for anyone. But at SERC (@S_ERC) we have a range of programmes and support in place to take you were you want to go, whether you feel you missed out at school, didn’t reach your full potential, want to be able to help your children with their homework or would like to get on a pathway that is going to lead to a career.

We’re sharing the stories of real people who returned to education for a range of reasons. Be inspired to restart your education as Naoise shares his story…

A combination of life events meant that Naoise Davey (26), from Maghera, Co Down dropped out of school without any GCSEs and went straight into full-time work. The young man is now in the final year of a law degree at Queen’s University Belfast, having progressed from the Access course at SERC’s Downpatrick Campus. He said,

“I grew up in a hospitality background, both my father and grandfather worked in pubs, so it was a natural progression for me to go into the sector. I actually trained as a chef and then eventually ended up working front of house - I really liked the dynamic working environment and enjoyed the customer facing role, but for me, the work didn’t have the intellectual stimulation that I wanted from a job, so I decided to explore other avenues.

“I had thought about returning to education with the idea that I would go back and train as a personal trainer. At that time I was heavily involved in sports, and into fitness and training myself so it seemed like a natural progression. There wasn’t a course that suited what I was after so a friend recommended I look into the Access Course. To be truthful, I was hesitant at first but ultimately what drew me to it was the endless possibilities of career paths. I couldn’t believe what I might be able to do on successful completion of the course.

“I enrolled on the 2-year full time programme at SERC’s Downpatrick Campus and I loved it. The atmosphere in the campus is totally different to any learning experience I have ever had, it’s a very relaxed studying environment and a lot more tailored to individual personalities and learning styles than traditional school, which clearly wasn’t for me.

“The course was also flexible enough for someone like me who was working full time in hospitality in tandem with the course. The support I received around deadlines, completing assessments, and just generally adapting to academic life was a real confidence boost.

He added, “I loved the new subjects, especially American literature, psychology and sociology and when I weighed up what I enjoyed, one of the lecturers pointed out that progressing to law might be something of interest. Law was something I had actually dared to think about doing when I was at school but I didn’t have the confidence to go for that back then, but here years later, the possibility was within my grasp and I knew I could put the work in to go for it. When I muted the idea to friends and family, quite a few were thinking that this is something that I could do and do well.

I was offered places to read law at Queen’s, the University of Liverpool and the University of Manchester where I took up a place. It was great but I didn’t settle so after one semester I transferred to Queen’s and am now in my final year.

“I have been applying for jobs in the corporate sector where I hope to progress in work as a business advisor in an accounting or legal role.

Naoise concluded, “To anyone thinking about returning to education I’d say, don’t be dissuaded by the fact that you don’t know what you want to do, as long as you are keen to change or try something different, you will be on the right road. There are so many routes you can take and lots of people to help and support you make the change you want to make for yourself.

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