Sarah O’Keeffe – BA (Hons) in Writing and Literature (Online)

Name: Sarah O’ Keeffe

Can you tell us your name, job title (if applicable) and the course you studied/are studying at ATU Sligo?

My name is Sarah O’Keeffe, I am a 42-year-old Family Carer for my son Charlie. The course I am studying is BA Hons Writing & Literature (online), I am currently in the second year of the course.

Can you share your career path to date?

My career path has varied from Marketing, Sales, Food & Beverage Management, Patient Coordinator, Food Truck Proprietor, Executive
Assistant, Corporate Secretary, but I am currently a Family Carer.

What does your current role involve? (if applicable)

I gave up my position as a Corporate Secretary in 2018 to become a full time Family Carer for my son Charlie who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. My role as Charlie’s Carer involves medication and treatment management, physio, monitoring and maintenance of gastronomy feeding tube, clinical appointments in Crumlin Hospital, feeding requirements and his day-to-day wellbeing.

What motivated you to start studying?

Once I gained a handle on Charlie’s care, I had time for myself when he was attending school. I used to be creative when I was younger and
enjoyed combining creative aspects to my roles of employment. When I read the article in the Irish Times about the Writing & Literature course being an option online, I thought this could be a perfect opportunity.

Why did you choose this course from ATU Sligo?

The online option was attractive as I could work around my duties as a Carer and attend from home. The course offered a balance of critical and creative modules which would be challenging, fun and an opportunity for me to improve on my writing skills.

How did you find/are you finding the process of studying online? What elements did you/do you find helpful? Were there elements you found/find challenging?

I appreciate that online studying isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it. There is greater flexibility, and I do not need to factor in commuting times or logistics. Most importantly, I can study / attend lectures whilst being close to my son. ATU Sligo has excellent supports, should there be any technical issue, it could be resolved quickly. The only challenge that presented itself was a couple of Wi-Fi blips, but this can be managed by turning off cameras, or mobile hot spotting if needed.

In terms of your employer, were they supportive of your decision to study? Were there elements of the course that were particularly relevant to your current employer?

As the course is online, and under 15 hours per week, it is approved by Carer’s Ireland. Once the course is completed, I would love to combine parttime work
from home and remain Charlie’s Carer. The skills that I will have learned from the course will improve my CV and provide greater opportunities.

In what way has studying online with ATU Sligo benefitted your career?

It has provided me with a purpose outside of being a Family Carer. I am gaining knowledge, building skills in writing, and utilizing creativity.

Did this course provide any unexpected benefits to your career?

Yes definitely! It has opened a new world of opportunities that I did not consider.

Did you find that the elements you were studying had practical relevance in your day-today role?

Yes, and it is amazing how much I share with my husband and son. Its fun bouncing ideas with them.

What were the key skills you took away from your time studying at ATU Sligo?

Enhanced writing skills, greater confidence in essays, critical thinking, comfort in giving / receiving peer workshop feedback, creativity, and a revived appreciation and love of literature that I was not aware existed.

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