BETTER OPTIONS 2021
Free 1 day online event for students with disabilities and specific learning difficulties exploring post-secondary school options in education.
Click the dropdowns below to explore the talks.
- Dara Ryder, CEO, AHEAD
Dara Ryder CEO, AHEAD
Dara Ryder is Chief Executive Officer of AHEAD, having previously managed AHEAD’s digital presence and developed a suite of online CPD programmes relating to inclusive practice in his role as Digital Media and eLearning Manager there.
After graduating from Queens University in 2005, Dara joined Dun Laoghaire College of Further Education as a lecturer, where he became interested in inclusive education when working first-hand with students with disabilities in his classroom. When the opportunity arose in 2008, he joined AHEAD where he has been working ever since on creating inclusive environments in education and employment for people with disabilities.
- Mary Stokes, NCGE
Mary Stokes NCGE
Mary Stokes has been the Guidance Programme Coordinator for Further Education & Training (FET) with the National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE) since October 2016.
Mary’s academic background includes B.A. Psych. and M.A. (Research: Guidance Counselling in Post Primary Education in Ireland) and she has worked for over 30 years in a wide range of Guidance Counselling roles including Post-Primary Guidance Counsellor, PLC and Community Guidance Counsellor, Guidance Counsellor to 3rd level Access courses and HSE Recovery programmes, Adult Education Guidance Counsellor and ETB AEGS Guidance Counsellor- Service Coordinator.
Mary’s priorities include the provision of inclusive, impartial, accessible, informed, and useful adult guidance services. Mary is committed to the promotion of service cooperation and support of collaborative system development to best serve the needs of all across the lifespan.
Mary brings an informed perspective regarding the delivery of Adult Guidance to those who are vulnerable, are distant from education and employment and those challenged by the global pandemic upheavals. Mary has valuable understanding of the range of existing service provision and the need for development of distinct yet cooperative policies and systems
Siobhan Magner National Programme Manager for the Sales Apprenticeship, Mayo Sligo Leitrim Education and Training Board (MSLETB)
Siobhan Magner has an extensive background in Higher Education (HE) - lecturing, training and programme design & development in undergraduate, postgraduate, CPD and corporate disciplines.
After 20 years in the HE sector, Siobhan moved to the Further Education (FE) sector in 2017 to lead the programme design and development of a number of new generation apprenticeships. Her current role with Mayo Sligo Leitrim Education and Training Board (MSLETB) as National Programme Manager for the Sales Apprenticeship involves the implementation and management of this new innovative programme. Research interests include entrepreneurial education, innovative assessment and design, with a particular focus on work-based assessment.
She was awarded a Masters in Hospitality Management from DIT (TUD) and is currently undertaking a Level 9 Postgraduate Certificate in Programme Design and Validation for Further Education and Training (FET).
From AHEAD and the Union of Students Ireland
- Hannah Kelly, GetAHEAD Coordinator, AHEAD
Hannah Kelly GetAHEAD Coordinator, AHEAD
Hannah is a DCU Journalism graduate who utilised the HEAR programme when accessing third level education and was an active volunteer with the access team. As an Access Ambassador in DCU she gained a drive for equality of access and experience in higher education. She is the current GetAHEAD Co-ordinator at AHEAD, a programme that works to up-skill graduates with disabilities by providing training events and valuable information covering a wide range of topics and resources. This includes regular workshops on disclosure where she hears directly from students and graduates about their concerns. On top of the issues of disability and socio-economic disadvantage, Hannah has a passion for other areas of social justice including LGBTQI+ rights.
Bukky Adebowale Union of Students Ireland
Bukky Adebowale [Sí/í] (pronounced Boo-key Ha-Day-Boh-Wah-Lay) is the Vice President for Equality & Citizenship at USI. Bukky obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological & Biomedical Sciences at Maynooth University.
She formerly held positions of Science & Engineering Faculty Assembly member, Bioscience Academic Representative and sabbatical position as the first Vice President Student Life at Maynooth Students’ Union. Bukky was the first Black woman to be elected to the executive teams of both Maynooth Students’ Union and the Union of Students in Ireland.
She has a flair for various interests from student rights, addressing the barriers students of colour face, student engagement and active citizenship.
DARE to Succeed
- Anne O'Connor, DCU
Anne O'Connor DCU
Anne O’Connor has over 20 years of experience working in the field of Disability and is currently the Head of Disability & Learning Support Service at Dublin City University. A graduate of UCD with a degree in Social Science and an MSc. Social Policy she has grown the Service in DCU from supporting 150 students to now supporting over 1000 students. A primary focus for Anne and her team is the use of technology to ensure students maintain their learning independence and to progress Universal Design for Learning within the University. She is a member of the IUA Access Steering Group and the DARE Screening Quality Supervisor.
- Declan Treanor, Director Disability Service, Trinity College Dublin; Chair of DAWN
Declan Treanor Director Disability Service, Trinity College Dublin; Chair of DAWN
Declan has been working in Trinity since the Disability Service was set up in June 2000. He has responsibility for ensuring that the College embeds disability related issues into the core of all thinking and delivery to ensure that the College environment is as accessible to people with disabilities as possible. Declan has an extensive educational history which includes a B Sc. in Science for NUI Galway, a Master’s in Social Policy and Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education, Trinity College Dublin. Declan is the Disability Officer for staff in College and for students who are D/deaf and Students with Autism Spectrum and Asperger’s Syndrome. Declan completed the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule Generic (ADOS-G), a direct observational assessment used to assist in the diagnosis of autism, and the Advanced Postgraduate Certificate in Autistic Spectrum Disorder at Queen’s University Belfast.
Courtney McGrath Trinity College Dublin
Courtney is the Graduate Intern for the Trinity Disability Service until June 2022. Courtney graduated with a B.A. Honours Bachelor's Degree in Business and Social Studies (B.E.S.S.) from Trinity College Dublin in 2021. Courtney has previously worked for the Disability Service as a Summer Intern in 2020.
As a person with profound hearing loss, Courtney has first-hand experience of what it is like to have a disability in higher education and has been involved in positions such as the Student's Union Officer for Students with Disabilities, and Chairperson of Trinity Sign Language society, to learn more about the obstacles students with disabilities face in university.
Courtney is particularly interested in the engagement of students with disabilities with wider campus life, as it is crucial for student development and to explore interests outside of academic work. Make an appointment to discuss Student Development and Engagement here.
AHEAD - Funded by the HEA
The core funding received by AHEAD for its higher education activities is provided by the Higher Education Authority.