Sarah Kiely - Youthreach a Stepping Stone
Sarah Kiely left school early when she became pregnant at the age of 18. She completed her Leaving Cert exams in the Youthreach Education Centre on O’ Connell Avenue and is now studying an honours degree in Social Care and Social Studies.

The following is Sarah’s story in her own words

‘My Name is Sarah Kiely. I was 19 years of age when I decided to go back to education and do my Leaving Cert as I knew I would need it someday. I dropped out of school in 6th year when I became pregnant at the age of 18. I decided to go to Youthreach because I realised that it was a good option for me as a young mother. While at Youthreach, I was treated as an adult and I knew that there would be students that would be in the same position as me.

The only concern that I had starting Youthreach was the fact that I didn’t know any of the other students. I need not have worried, as I found that students and staff members were very easy going and they made me feel comfortable in attending my classes and other activities at the time. While attending Youthreach, I found that I made a lot of friends, who I still bump into every now and again.  I really enjoyed my time there as a student. I feel like Youthreach has given me a baseline for my learning/education and that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for staff members like Martin who was not only a teacher but a mentor as well. Youthreach brought out the best in me and the support that I had from staff and students was amazing. I have come to realize that without attending Youthreach I wouldn’t have been able to further my education because at the time I was young and didn’t have any future plans.  
While at Youthreach I completed my Leaving cert, which lead me to go to college and that started me off on my journey through my education process. I would encourage any young person who has left school to come to Youthreach because there is so much support and many opportunities available to them. They can also meet new friends and get support and guidance. Furthermore, I found that Youthreach prepared me for college because it was an introduction to my education. The class sizes were much smaller than regular school, so I was at an advantage to other students and I had more time to prepare for my leaving cert.

As a result, I am now attending a Honours Degree in Social Care and Social Studies which is a 4 year course. I am at the end of my 3rd year now and hoping to pass my exams and continue with my studies. My future plans are to do my Masters in Cork in Social Work which will be another two years, so altogether I hope I will have six years of college done. I found that the only thing that got me through college was to take each trimester at a time.
I also would like to say thanks to everyone at Youthreach for the support I had while I was there and also the guidance counsellor and other staff members who are still there today. Keep up the good work lads and thanks again…’

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