Mary O’Connell: “I Love How Close-Knit the College is”| Discover Your Story

In conversation with Mary O’Connell, an AIT Student Ambassador from Headford Road, Co Galway. Mary is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Social Studies in Social Care (Course Code: AL765)

Q1: What do you study and why did you choose it?

I’m in the final year of my Bachelor of Arts in Applied Social Studies in Social Care. I chose my course because I wanted to help other people and have an interest in psychology and mental health. I’m really enjoying my course - my lecturers are extremely approachable and knowledgeable in their fields and give constructive criticism which helps you continuously improve.

Q2: What do you love most about AIT?

I love how close-knit the college is. Everyone is approachable, open and friendly. As someone with a hearing impairment, I was nervous about starting college, but the AIT Disability Support Service is outstanding – staff go above and beyond to help students. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support.

Q3: If you could go back and give your Leaving Certificate self some advice, what would you tell them?

You are young and the Leaving Certificate is not the end of the world! It doesn’t necessarily direct your career path for life either - you can always change courses and ultimately careers. If you do not know what you want to do in life, that is ok too. Allow yourself to ask questions, explore and discover in your own time what you want to do.

Q4: Have you gone on placement, worked on any cool projects, or studied abroad through AIT? If so, what/where and what did you learn from the experience?

Work placement is an integral part of my course and it really helps you figure out what areas you’re most interested in. I went on three placements and they pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to explore new aspects of social care. I learned new approaches to teaching and communicating (lámh).

Q5: Why should everyone consider coming to AIT?

The supports in the college are considerable, including academic writing, assistive technology rooms and disability support services. All lecturers try their best to help you succeed and accommodate as best they can. AIT really cares about its students and supports their physical and mental health with access to a state-of-the-art health centre and gym on campus. That aside, AIT is a multi-award-winning institute and has a course to suit everyone.

Q6: What is one thing you love about being AIT Student Ambassador?

I have had such a great experience in AIT, I wanted to share this in some way and the ambassador programme was ideal. The experience has really allowed me to grow as a person and become more mature than I was when I started college. It has allowed me to understand more about myself and about others.

Athlone Institute of Technology is a contemporary third level institute distinguished by academic excellence in teaching, learning and research. The institute was awarded The Sunday Times ‘Institute of Technology of the Year 2020, 2018 and Runner-Up in 2017. The institute also tops Ireland’s official league table for research and was listed in U-Multirank’s ‘Top 25 Performing Universities in the World for Interdisciplinary Research’ in 2018 and 2019. For information relating to the institute’s undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, visit #ChooseAIT

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