David Friel, Masters in Social Care and Social Justice

I graduated from LYIT with a degree in Health and Social Care and from there I started working in a residential care setting. I had a desire to progress my studies, but I also wanted to continue in employment. The Masters course from ATU Sligo in Social Care and Social Justice aligned with my personal and professional goals.

The flexible delivery combining live online lectures with on-campus residentials allowed me to balance work and study ambitions. ATU Sligo are the leaders in Online Learning and the way the course is structured, it really reflects their understanding of how to engage online students.

In my professional life, since commencing the course I have progressed to a managerial role. The course is really helping build my knowledge but also building confidence in my ability to make positive contributions to my workplace.

On a personal level, as the first Irish Traveller in the Northwest to achieve a formal Masters qualification, the course has given me a platform to contribute to and shape the issues that impact anyone in society from an ethnic minority.

I have developed a better understanding of social injustice, the rights of individuals and am growing my skillset as an advocate for my community. By building my leadership abilities in these areas, I can make a meaningful contribution towards equality for all in a personal and professional capacity.

In terms of the learning experience, I have developed great friendships with my peer group. I have connected with like minded individuals who have helped me find my voice as we explore different themes. There is genuine solidarity, empathy, and compassion as we navigate the course together.

The course teaching is broad, and I would recommend that students think about their particular area of interest before embarking on the course. The final year thesis is a big undertaking but if you find your niche, you are well supported along your research journey.

The academic and support staff at ATU Sligo have been hugely supportive, both financially and in terms of my personal development. I have been given the opportunity to speak at webinars and contribute to media publications as a voice for ethnic minorities in our community. This level of mentorship was unexpected, and it has opened up connections and possibilities that I hadn’t even considered before starting the course.

As a student of ATU Sligo, I have experienced firsthand the inclusive ethos of the college. They have demonstrated equal access for all and provided support that is life-changing for me personally, which I intend to put to effective use for my community and those who do not have a voice in our society.