Sunday 28 December 2014

A breathing space to recover and continue my studies

My Story: College supports were a great help, says Tom

Published 18/08/2014 | 06:00

Tom McCarthy at UCC Photo: Clare Keogh
Tom McCarthy at UCC Photo: Clare Keogh

When Tom McCarthy was confronted with the dreaded CAO form, Law was in pole position as his father and grandfather were both solicitors and he felt compelled to pursue the family tradition.

However, one re-check of Leaving Cert results later and still 15 points short, he found himself having to choose between the BSc Public Health at University College Cork (UCC), and a catering course, although he still has no idea now why he chose the latter.

"Despite my initial reservations, I really took to Public Health. It instilled a new and transferable way of thinking in me I would not trade for anything", said Tom from Cork City.

I went on to do a Masters in Public Health in 2008 (also in UCC), though I did this over two years as I began to suffer from what I can only call a crushing period of depression."

Tom puts his recovery down to the support of his GP and family, UCC counselling services and the flexibility of the course co-ordinators.

"They supported me through this difficult time and it was great to get that breathing space to recover and continue my studies."

It was three weeks into a PhD scholarship when Tom came to a decision he had been considering for some time

"Early on in my college days, and thanks in part to partaking in extracurricular activities like the Journalism Society and writing for student media, I began to realise that I was not exactly on the career path I wanted."

Tom says that "having to resign in front of the same person who had awarded the scholarship to me only weeks previously was very difficult to do, but immensely liberating too." A career in journalism or new media became the new goal.

He packed in the PhD and pursued a Masters in Journalism with New Media in Cork IT. Now he is back in UCC, as Media and Public Relations Officer, while also writing as a freelance journalist.

"A degree and Masters that would appear to be polar opposites have been immensely helpful across all areas of my working life.

"In an ideal world, yes, I would have put far more thought into my CAO choices and saved myself a lot of stress in the process, but everything has largely worked out so far, when I was 100pc certain it could not".

Irish Independent

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