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‘I really wanted to proceed from nursing to veterinary medicine’

How I got here: Olga Keenan on signing up for UCD’s Access course and entering veterinary medicine

I originally came from Poland, finished my high school and went to university down the financial route but didn’t finish it. I went to Dublin to earn a bit of money so I could return to study. I always wanted to be a vet. Then when I came to Ireland, life took over; I met my husband, and a couple of children later. I never gave up on the dream.

I was working as a fully-qualified veterinary nurse for about 15 years. When I heard UCD had mature entry, I kept an eye on how to get in. Even though I was qualified as a veterinary nurse and was practising veterinary nursing, I really wanted to proceed from nursing to veterinary medicine.

I signed myself up for the Access course and it was the best thing I ever did. I was just thinking if I don’t try, especially with my age, I would regret it. I’m so glad I did. It was quite scary at the beginning because everyone was much younger. I was nervous about going back to education with the children.

I knew I’d be one of the oldest. I know they were all mature students but they were 23, or 25, but I’m hitting 40 next year. So I was worried but it turned out to be the complete opposite. There were so many people coming from different backgrounds and coming on to the course for different reasons. That opened my eyes a wee bit. I’ve met so many fantastic people.


I really enjoyed the course. I didn’t find it very hard or academically challenging. I enjoyed studying. I knew exactly what I wanted so I had that drive. There were tasks I was happy to do because they had purpose. But I didn’t find anything really hard.

There were some things you had to practise a little bit. We had maths, which I wasn’t very good at in school and I was a bit worried about advanced maths as the Access course was for people doing engineering as well. So the maths was advanced. But the professor we had maths with was absolutely fantastic. Half of our class was actually considering keeping the maths after him.

They offered extra classes and help for people who struggled. So there was just loads of support. I was lucky enough that I could manage without any help but for people who did struggle there was loads of help available from the university.

I [started] the course in September. And oh my goodness, I could not wait. I always wanted to be a vet, even as a kid, I just wanted to work with animals. That was always my dream. I’m over the moon.

* The Irish Times will publish College Choice supplement on 16 January, giving information and advice to students applying for college places in 2024.