GARY Ferncombe's route to a career in radiography may not have been as straightforward as some, but it was steady and sure-footed.
Radiography is one of those health professional courses that has a cut-off of well over 500 points and would have been out Gary's reach in his Leaving Cert year.
The 27-year-old from Cavan "hated school" and his main focus in those days was sport.
He opted to do the alternative Leaving Certificate Applied, which does not allow for direct progression to third-level.
After finishing school, Gary was happy to sign up for a further education course in sports and recreation studies in Cavan Institute, which he followed with another in sports therapy.
Further education courses such as these can be used as stepping stones to third level, sometimes in Ireland and sometimes in the UK, and Cavan has developed well-travelled routes.
Gary headed off initially to Wolverhampton, where he gained a BSc in rehabilitation studies. As he progressed, he thought about doing physiotherapy, but ever the guiding hand, Phil McDonald, head of health care, sport and education at Cavan, advised him of a changing jobs market and said radiography would be a better bet.
So Gary went on to Birmingham where he graduated with his degree in radiography last summer.
While many of his fellow Irish students opted to stay in the UK, Gary took a chance and returned home immediately after finishing his exams in May.
What a lucky move it turned out to be – a month-long contract in the Hermitage Clinic, Lucan, turned into a permanent job a month later.
It was a successful journey for a young man who hated school and who now says it is about "having a focus".
Irish Independent Supplement