AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


Better Options 2020 Student Panel

As part of Better Options Online Event on the 28th November we will have a student panel with existing and recent graduates from higher and further education in Ireland. The Panel will discuss their experiences of why and how they entered college, then some insight about how college is going (or has gone) for them. 

Meet the panellists;

Courtney McGrath (Chair)

CourtneyHi everyone! I am Courtney, and I am a final year Business and Sociology Student at Trinity College. I came to college through the DARE scheme as I am profoundly deaf and have bilateral cochlear implants. During my time in college, I have been involved in disability activism in my College's Student's Union, and I also continued learning Irish Sign Language, which I am very passionate about. I am looking forward to meeting everyone and moderating a panel of fantastic student speakers who will give you an insight into what college is like as a student with a disability. I believe that all students attending Better Options can achieve anything they set their mind to.



Vicky Matthews

photo of VictoriaHi I’m Victoria Matthew from Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. I’m studying Sport with Business at IT Sligo. A long term disability advocate working both on campus and nationally on key campaigns to promote inclusion of people with disabilities in Ireland. I’m a founding member and chair of IT Sligo Disability and Inclusion Sports Club. I’m also involved in a number of organisations focussed on inclusion including a board member of Donegal Centre for Independent Living, member of Ahead/USI Disabled Students Advisory Group, member of Independent Living Movement Ireland and The European Network on Independent Living. My hobbies are swimming and playing wheelchair basketball.


Claire Hendrick

photo of ClaireHi, my name is Claire Hendrick. I'm 37 years old. I have an intellectual learning disability. I always wanted to go to college to study childcare and have recognised qualifications. But due to my disability I was anxious about supports, “would I be able?”. I spoke to Marino Further Education College about my disability and work as it was 2-year course, but they recognised that time and supports was what I needed and they split the course into a 4-year program.  The supports were personalized to my needs and I would encourage anyone to talk to their further education for help. I wouldn't have my FETAC level 5 & level 6 in childcare without the help & supports I got.  My personal interests are my animals, friends, family, cooking and breaks away. I also love to find a good bargain for example clothes, furniture. 


Paul Geoghegan

photo of PaulHi, I am Paul Geoghegan a 20-year-old 2nd year student from the Technological University of Dublin formally DIT. Currently I am studying for my undergrad honours degree in Computer Science Infrastructure. I have an eye condition called Leber congenital amaurosis which has left me almost fully blind. I do have some vision but it is what I refer to as non-functional.

Outside of college I my hobbies are: Judo which I have been training in since I was 13 and have fought the Paralympic world number 3 in 2017, drumming which I mainly took up as a way to just have fun and relieve some stress. I also have a guide dog which is not a hobby but I had to include her somewhere.

In order to get to where I am now I actually dropped out of secondary school and took part in the TU Dublin Access Foundation Program which allowed me to go directly in to my current level 8.

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Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

East Hall, UCD, Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin.
T +353 1 592 1467 E ahead@ahead.ie W www.ahead.ie RCN 20025182