Carole Connors
Guidance key to making the right choice

Carole Connors has recently gone back to college at the age of 37. A native of Clareview and now living in Thomondgate, Carole had no idea what she wanted to do when she left school. Without any direction, she ended up going to England to stay with an aunt and completed a course in Electrical Installation and Electronic Servicing whilst working part-time in a nursing home. After a year she returned home and proceeded to work in various shops in Limerick until she had her daughter, now aged 13.

It was only after the birth of her daughter that questions began to arise about the life she wanted to live. She stayed at home to look after her daughter and after a few years began to do computer classes in St Munchin’s Community Centre eventually progressing to an ECDL programme offered in the Centre. Whilst doing this course she was approached to participate in the Emerge programme piloted by St Munchin’s CDP. This innovative work-life balance programme gave Carole the push to really think about what she wanted from her life and gave her the confidence to make positive changes in her life.

During the programme, she met with Catherine Carroll, Adult Guidance Counsellor for St Munchin’s, and began to explore her options. At this point, she was feeling confused because there were a few areas that interested her. However, during the process, she began to see that her real passion lay with Caring for Older People and she feels that meeting the Guidance Counsellor gave her the push to take concrete action. Carole feels very strongly that older people, especially those with no family and who are sick should not be left to fend for themselves. Carole had a number of choices of courses but eventually applied to do a one year Further Education course in Community and Healthcare Studies. She was successful in getting a place and despite the challenges of travel, study and caring for her daughter, has excelled in all subjects, including Care Skills & Support, Nutrition & Occupational First Aid.  Carole kept in touch with the Guidance Counsellor during the year and she found this contact a great support. She has also made a lot of friends of all ages and finds great support within her class. She was initially very nervous going into class with 18 and 19 year olds, but took on the advice of a tutor that if she put the work in it would pay off and this has been the case for her. She says now that she did not realise the potential she had and that she actually was intelligent.  She also finds that she is providing a good example for her daughter, who now sits down with her to study together.

Carole hopes to go on and study Nursing, something she would not have imagined a few years ago. She is nervous about this move, but realises that she felt the same about undertaking the Community and Healthcare course, and ultimately she did very well. Carole feels that if she had gone on to study straight after school, she would not have had the motivation to complete such a course. However, at the age of 37, she has a high level of motivation and passion for the area. What would she recommend to someone thinking of going back to education? ‘Take the opportunity, anything is possible if you put your mind to it’. She recommends that people avail of the Guidance Service to help them explore and make decisions and to support them through the process of taking a new direction.

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