Taking time to figure things out pays off for Tara
My Story: Family and friends encouraged me to take time to figure things out, says Tara
A rushed decision left Tara Kilcommons feeling "lost in the system," at a large college.
"At 18, I didn't know what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, or who I wanted to be," said Tara, (22), who started a bachelor of arts degree (BA) in 2010.
"I enjoyed my subjects but it was hard to connect with my lecturers and peers in packed lecture halls," she said, adding, "so, after my first year exams, I left."
"That summer I was really disheartened, I felt horrible, but my family and friends encouraged me to take time to figure things out," said Tara, from Roosky, Co Roscommon.
Soon afterwards, the owner of a local adventure centre noticed Tara's "good way with people" and "natural knack for the outdoors." He asked her to help out.
"He mentioned a one-year further education and training course (FETAC) in adventure sports and leadership in Drumshandbo, Leitrim," she said, adding "I decided to give it a go."
During that year Tara studied mountain skills, kayak instruction, rescue first aid and sports nutrition and coaching and more. She loved it.
"I was told to look into the BA in Outdoor Education at the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). I went to an open day and asked lots of questions, I didn't want to make the same mistake twice."
The college and its lecturers put Tara at ease. "There was a real sense of family and community to the whole Castlebar campus, I knew I'd fit in," she said.
With only 30 in her class, Tara found it easy to make friends, and soon climbed to the top through clubs and societies.
She captained GMIT to first place in last year's college surfing inter-varsities.
"Clubs and societies make you really interactive, they've enriched my whole college experience," said Tara, who worked in summer camps in Switzerland and the UK.
Now heading into third year, Tara believes she made the right decision and has no regrets.
"For anyone struggling with a predominantly theory course, this avenue really works. I can go anywhere with this course, be an instructor, an educator or even set up on my own."