Graduating from university is a major life transition for most people. A day of noted achievement. A day of celebration. A day of pride. For the six students with intellectual disability graduating this week from Trinity with a Level 5 Certificate in Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice (ASIAP) the sense of achievement, celebration and pride is immense.
It was a pivotal day in the lives of these students of the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disability (TCPID), as their graduation not only signifies personal achievement comparable to all graduating students, but this very achievement in itself is breaking down barriers, challenging an education system which historically was exclusionary, and paves the way for people with intellectual disability to become University students and graduates.
In the inspirational words of some of the students themselves who best describe what they were feeling:
Niamh Biddulph said:“Graduating is the start of life where anything is possible. I can make my own decisions and follow my dreams. Trinity gave me that. I never expected I could be a Trinity graduate, it’s great to celebrate something I thought was never going to be an option for me.”
Mark Hogan said: “You have to show loyalty and respect and earn your place in Trinity College and never give up on your dream. If you work very hard in Trinity College you can be more independent and responsible by doing your work and bringing it in on time. If you do your work properly you will achieve success and complete all the modules in Trinity College. Everyone has to be equal. Do not compare yourself to others. Everybody has their own opinions and rights which should be respected. I put my mind in to doing my work and I never give up on my dreams. Graduating is very important to all of us because we are all together in one happy class and it’s all thanks to Trinity College and all the staff working there.”
This is the first time that Trinity has conferred a level 5 certification, the first time that a cohort of students with intellectual disability have been conferred at this level by any University and attests to Trinity’s commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion and the vision of a truly diverse campus.
Course Coordinator, Assistant Professor in Intellectual Disability and Inclusion, Dr Mary-Ann O’Donovan, added:“We offer a two-year inter-disciplinary university programme for students with intellectual disability, which is embedded within all of the University systems and provides the opportunity for a post-secondary education which is essential for people with intellectual disability to access the educational, employment and life choices comparable to their peers.”
Director of the TCPID, Professor Michael Shevlin concluded: “People with intellectual disabilities have traditionally been among the most marginalised within our society with limited opportunities in education and employment. Engagement in this university programme enables people with intellectual disabilities to participate meaningfully in employment and adult life and make a valued contribution to society.”