Life after the Leaving: ‘Believe in yourself and follow your passions’

Averil Power is chief executive of the Irish Cancer Society. Previously she was a senator and before that a government adviser

Averil Power: “As the first person in my family to finish school, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities my education has given me.”

Averil Power: “As the first person in my family to finish school, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities my education has given me.”

 

I went to Dominican College, Sion Hill, in Dublin. My tendency to question everything meant I definitely wasn’t the easiest student to teach. I also hated how rote learning for the Leaving Cert stifled our imaginations. I had some great teachers, though, who helped me knuckle down and get the points for college. I studied business, economics and social science at Trinity College, which I loved.

Having such a broad education has been a big asset in the very different careers I have had to date. I also learned a huge amount outside the lecture hall at college debates and through the students’ union, where I had the privilege of serving as students’ union resident. More recently, I studied law part-time at the Kings Inns, becoming a qualified barrister.

As the first person in my family to finish school, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities my education has given me. I would never have gotten where I am today otherwise and am passionate about the need for everyone, whatever community they’re from, to have the chance to go to college if they wish.

Stressful time

The Leaving Cert and the build up to the results is a really stressful time. I still have nightmares about my Leaving Cert! But there are so many options now. If you don’t get the points you had hoped for, don’t panic.

You may well be able to get where you want to go by another route. My advice to those awaiting results is to always follow your heart. Don’t pick a college course just because you got the points for it or because you think it’ll lead to a well-paid job. It’s incredibly difficult to predict where the opportunities will be in five, 10 or 20 years’ time and life is way too short to be counting the hours in a job you hate.

Believe in yourself and follow your passions.