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TCPID Graduate Stephen Ryan - My Story!

My name is Stephen Ryan and I come from Ballickmoyler a small village in County Laois about 20 minutes from Carlow town.

Before I found out about the Certificate in Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice course in Trinity College Dublin, I was at home for 2 years with no supports what so ever. This was a very low point in my life. All the way through school I never felt good enough. If it wasn’t for my parents and my family, I would have never thought my life would get any better than this.

Then one of the best things in my life happened, Special Olympics came into my life which I love. I made a promise to myself if any job or training centre would affect my participation in Special Olympics, I would not do it because it got me out of very bad part of my life, and it gave me a circle of very close friends which I never had. I have been a member of Special Olympics 5 years and I love it as much now as I first walked into Special Olympics. It changed my life!

Then another great thing happened in the year 2017 I got word of a Level 5 Certificate course for people with intellectual disabilities called the Certificate in Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice. I can still remember finding out about the course like it was yesterday. I just arrived back from a day in Dublin with my friend, when I got into my mums car. She said that she got a call from my aunt who works in Trinity College that this course for intellectual disabilities existed. I never thought a course like this was real. This was on a Tuesday and as the interviews were all over, I had to get all the relevant information and to give it to my aunt on Wednesday evening and my aunt brought it in and left it on the desk the next morning.

Then I got word that I was to have an interview the following Wednesday in the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities in College Green Dublin.

On the day of the interview I felt nervous but excited too. Mum and I got the train to Dublin, but the train broke down which made me more nervous. While I was sitting there, I was thinking that I blew my chance this year of making it. I kept on emailing on my tablet of the situation to update them. I finally made it to the interview, but I was an hour and a half late. Instead of getting the 145 bus from outside Heuston Station which would have made me later than I was, Mum and I got a taxi to College Green.

When I finally arrived, I met with John Kubiak and Marie Devitt and they both made me feel welcomed and I wasn’t nervous anymore. They continued the interview like nothing happened. The Occupational Therapist Barbara Ringwood was supposed be there also, but she had to leave to teach a class before I arrived.

The next day was a day I’ll never forget I got an email saying that was accepted to Trinity College Dublin. The year 2017 will always be remembered as the year I got accepted to the best college in Ireland.

When I first found out that I got accepted to Trinity I was delighted but also nervous because I feared getting lost finding my way to the Trinity Centre and finding my way around the campus.

I was also questioning whether I belonged in a college like Trinity as I never really fitted in at school.

When I was reading the subjects for the first year the thing that scared me was doing 10-minute presentations as I was wondering to myself how was I going to stand up and talk for ten minutes as I have a fear of standing and talking in front of anyone.

Before I started my Mum and I went through the route a couple of times before I started college, so I wasn’t as scared as I was originally.

Within just 3 days of starting college my confidence changed as my aunt showed me where Pearse station was as I didn’t know, and I got on a Dart to Clontarf a place I have never been to before to stay the night with my brother.

As I made my way through the 2 years of college my confidence kept growing as I gave a speech representing Special Olympics Ireland about diversity and inclusion within sport in front of 60 to 70 people in the State Street bank. Now I still get nervous given presentations but so do most people.

I now bring my friends to Dublin to show them around as I am confident that I can find my way to anywhere in Dublin.

My best subject in college was Disability Rights because it showed me as a person with a disability what my rights are. Over the 2 years I got 21 distinctions which I am over the moon with. The course consults of 21 subjects over two years which I think is brilliant as it gives people with intellectual disabilities a variety of subjects they would like to do when they finish college.

One of the subjects was Work Placement and we had to do 8 weeks of work experience every Friday. My work placement was in EY (Ernst & Young) which I really enjoyed over the eight Fridays I was there.

When my work placement was done, I had to do a PowerPoint on what I liked and disliked about my work placement. I didn’t dislike anything as I loved every bit of it.

At the end of the course came the internships which we didn’t have to find as Marie was the person who talked to the businesses on our behalf. The place where I was to do my 3-month summer internship was indeed the place where I done my work placement EY.

I had a great time over my internship and I liked to believe I worked hard and I think I did do enough to impress them because on my birthday the 19th of August I got an email about a catchup and a meeting room was booked with my close colleagues cc which I have been doing work for over the past couple of months. Originally, I thought it was for my mentor to find out what I have been doing over the last couple of weeks as she was on study leave. It was then I got the best news I could of possibly hoped for. I was offered a permanent position in EY! At this moment I was proud and eager to get my phone out and tell people. They said to me that they booked the meeting room for half an hour. It only took them 5 minutes to tell me the news the remaining time was for me to contact my family to tell them the news.

I now have an exciting new career in EY.

So, there you have it my life up till now. I want to say to any person who has a Disability keep working to learn and to achieve you true potential. It might take you a bit longer but people with disabilities have what it takes to succeed and to try different things as you never know where your talents lie.

The Certificate in Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice in Trinity College is possibly the best thing you can do because the staff are so passionate about people with intellectual disabilities and they are the nicest people you will ever come across as they understand where we are coming from.

While writing this article I remember how sad my life was and what two years of success have done to my life.

I am only looking forward now as in the last two years I have only got good news on top of good news so I can’t wait to see what the future holds and I wouldn’t be this successful if it wasn’t for the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities and the wonderful staff there.

Even the low points in your life can be turned into success.

Here are some quotes from some of Stephen's EY colleagues

Daniel McGovern: Stephen offers himself up for work at every opportunity and does a fantastic job of plugging holes around our busy department. He was the driving force behind the establishment of the Fantasy Football League in the office which is providing much amusement and pain. Personally, it is a nice change to have someone in the office who is more interested in talking about Laois county football than exams.

Niamh Parsons: Stephen is a great addition to the Tax team here at EY. Not only does his bubbly nature have a domino effect on the team but he’s positive and enthusiastic about the work that’s given to him on a daily basis. Stephen would talk anyone under the table when it comes to anything sports or news related! I’m looking forward to see Stephen grow and progress his skills in the workplace more and more everyday.