'I deferred for a year and did a PLC. It allowed me to save money and ensure I was ready for college'
Alpha Ike, Maynooth University
Alpha Ike deferred his top choice university place for a year, to be sure he was ready for the challenge of college and make some money to fund his education.
The 20-year-old, from Nigeria, came to Ireland when he was eight, and settled in Cavan, where he has lived happily with a foster family from the age of about 11.
Having landed the BSc Computer Science and Software Engineering at Maynooth University (NU), the former Breifne College pupil decided to do a PLC in Software Development in Cavan Institute first.
While nervous coming in to MU, he "fell in love with it on day one" and describes his experience since as "unbelievable".
Alpha entered via the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and had the benefit of an Orientation Week for Access students.
Luckily, his money worries were sorted mid-way through his first semester when he was awarded a 1916 Bursary, a Department of Education initiative to support access to third level by students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
"It's a privilege to have it; I can devote myself full-time to studies."
Alpha brought with him the same determination to succeed that had marked his life in Cavan, where he played with his local GAA club, Ballyhaise, while his talent for soccer saw him selected as a first team player for Monaghan Cavan FC, playing for under-19 League of Ireland.
He is also very involved in other extra-curricular activities such as the CoderDojo society, passing on his computer experience to young students.
Not forgetting the support he enjoyed two years ago, he volunteers with the orientation programme for Access students.