Sara Mc Fadden – BBs (Hons) in Sport with Business
Name: Sara Mc Fadden
School: Davitt College, Castlebar
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to choose your course
I have always been heavily involved in sports, playing many sports through my younger years but camogie was always my main sport which I played to the county level with Mayo before taking up race-driving. I have always had a big interest/passion for business so, when it came time to choose a college course, Sport with Business was the logical choice for me as it allowed me to pursue both of my passions in one course rather than having to choose.
Why did you choose ATU Sligo?
I chose ATU Sligo based off the course that I wanted to do. When I was researching courses before my CAO, I found Sport with Business which was the perfect course for me and it is offered nowhere else in the country, so I chose ATU Sligo based on the course.
What advice would you give someone thinking about choosing ATU Sligo?
If the course you want is offered in ATU Sligo, then I would absolutely recommend choosing ATU Sligo as it offers fantastic opportunities and benefits such as the smaller class sizes which allow you to have more contact with your lecturers and of course brilliant facilities.
Do you like Sligo as a student town? e.g. things to do, food, nightlife, clubs and societies, accommodation etc.
Yes, the main thing that I like about Sligo as a student town is how close together everything is. The student accommodation is so close to the college and you are only a short walk into the town which is very different to the situation in other colleges around the country.
What specifically about your course do you particularly enjoy?
For me the part of my course that I enjoy the most is getting to learn hands on with practical classes. I am a person who likes to learn from doing things, so this course allows me to do this due to its high amount of practical learning. The 12-week work placement that we completed in 2nd year was also an amazing opportunity as it has helped me to secure a job in a sector which is quite difficult to enter and one that I never even imagined myself in before starting the course but now I can’t see myself wanting to do anything else.
What would you say to a student thinking about studying your course?
If you believe that this course is something you will have an interest in, then go for it. This course has opened a door for me and helped me to secure a job that I adore, in a sector that I never even imagined myself working in through the work placement so I would highly recommend going for it because you never know what the future has in store.
A little about Sara’s sporting career:
Sara a 20 year old from rally co-driver from Castlebar, Co. Mayo who was born with a condition called albinism – which is a condition that causes a complete absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. She also suffers from Nystagmus which is an eye condition where her eyes move on a constant basis from left to right due to the fact that the muscles behind them never developed correctly. Both of these conditions have left Sara visually impaired since birth.
After many setbacks along the years including finding out she could never drive a car which extinguished any hopes/dreams that Sara had of following in her parents footsteps and becoming a rally driver, Sara switched focus and set her sights firmly on becoming a rally navigator (co driver) and in 2018, having successfully satisfied the criteria laid down by Motorsport Ireland, Sara received her competition co-drivers licence just ahead of the Imokilly Mini Stages Rally in Cork in July 2018 and by doing this Sara became the first visually impaired person to ever compete in Irish rallying and achieved her lifelong dream.
Tell us about your sporting career/success so far?
From that day I decided to take my story public to help other people with a disability to prove that nothing in life should stand in your way of achieving a dream that you have, I did this by doing radio, print and even some TV interviews like the TV3 ‘6 O’Clock Show’.
Since that history making day in 2018, I have gone from strength to strength getting better each event and I have been very lucky to have had a lot of successes both in and out of the car very early into my career.
In the car
In 2019 I came 2nd in class in the Trition Showers National Rally Championship.
In 2019 I came 2nd in class in the Sligo Pallets Border Rally Championship.
In 2019 I came 2nd in class in the Top Part West Coast Rally Championship.
In 2019 I came 3rd in class in the Hugo Loman Motors Midlands East Rally Championship.
Out of the Car
In 2018 I won the Rehab Mayo, Connaught Telegraph young person of the year
In 2018 I was recognised for an outstanding season at the motorsport Ireland champions of motorsport awards.
In 2019 I won the Mayo Dublin Association young person of the year
I won Sports person of the month for July in 2018 with the Connaught Telegraph young Sporting stars awards.
In 2019 I won one of the top 3 awards at the JCI Mayo, ten outstanding young people’s awards.
In 2019 I won the special achievement award at both the regional and national Garda youth awards,
In 2019 I made the finalists for Irish Woman of the Year.
In 2019 I won the Motorsport Ireland J.C Millard award.
In 2019 I was awarded a special recognition award at the Federation of Irish sport, sports industry awards.
In 2019 I won the border rally championship pride of the border championship award.
What is the best thing about sport and sports facilities at ATU Sligo?
The best thing about the sports facilities in ATU Sligo for me personally is the location of the facilities. The location is ideal beside the college. As it is on the college grounds, it is very accessible for me to access with my vision impairment as there is no roads to cross etc.
How has the sports scholarship benefited you? What are the advantages to it?
The main benefits of it have been financially with helping me to cover some of the costs associated with competing in a very high-cost sport and also the promotion element, the promoting that was done around the scholarships last year with the commission of the video and photos were fantastic as this helped me to spread my story to more people which is my main goal.
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