PAST pupils of a Bandon college recently went back to school to share their tips and experiences with today’s pupils, on the same night as a new bursary was launched.
In an initiative called ‘Back for the Future’, St Brogan’s students and parents were welcomed to this past pupil programme, with an arrival reception and words of wisdom from Pat McKelvey, director of schools, Cork Education and Training Board.
Pat was joined by Helen Cadogan, principal at St Brogan’s College and both have harvested years of experience to help students with the stresses and confusion the Leaving Certificate and further education and training can cause for students and parents alike.
While parents were invited to listen to a talk from Citizen’s Advice on how to fill out college forms, speak to the St Brogan’s College guidance teacher, Ms Murphy, and browse through the college prospectus, sixth year students had the opportunity to conduct one-to-one meetings with past pupils.
The mastermind behind the event, St Brogan’s teacher Teresa Vaughan, commented on her inspiration for this successful new programme: ‘This Back for the Future initiative came to me last year when a student was writing an essay about their future and the topic of college arose.
‘The student was torn between two options and I just happened to suggest speaking to someone already doing the course,’ she said.
This was something they had never considered, she realised.
‘Actually talking to someone instead of Googling seemed a very strange concept, which in turn got me thinking. I felt past pupils were an under-utilised resource in every school. Goodwill and that sense of belonging lasts long after the uniform has been discarded, and I thought that it would be wonderful if our past and present pupils could link up and discuss their ‘common’ courses,’ she explained.
‘The atmosphere was fantastic and has opened up a positive dialogue between parents, students and the school on possible paths following graduation.’
Past students studying the likes of civil engineering, biochemistry, business studies, agriculture, medicine and computer science, spoke with current Leaving Certificate students and discussed what their course consisted of – the difficulties, pitfalls and positive aspect.
It allowed current students to get a personal first-hand account of where their future could take them, and what would be in store for them when they got there.
‘We wanted to encourage all of our Leaving Certificate students in their specific third level endeavours, so the wonderful staff at the college devised this programme,’ said Pat McKelvey.
‘By speaking to a student who is already doing their course, our current cohort was able to attain information and a uniquely personal insight into their course, not available anywhere else,’ said Mr McKelvey.
‘It was also a wonderful opportunity to bring our past pupils back to their school and to strengthen their ties with the school community, embedding a sense of pride in our Brogan’s family.’
The evening also offered the potential for some financial support for their journey, when the inaugural Brogan’s Bursary was launched.
Donated by a local business, the sum of €1,000 will be made available to be awarded to a Leaving Certificate student to start them off and support them in their next phase of further education.