When Abbie Fitzgerald missed out on her dream course, she quickly set about pursuing another route to achieving her goal
When Abbie Fitzgerald didn’t get the CAO points for veterinary medicine, she quickly turned to finding a plan B.
She briefly contemplated going abroad to study, but, instead, signed up for a one-year post-Leaving Cert (PLC) course in animal science in Killester College of Further Education, Dublin.
“I thought the modules looked very interesting,” says Abbie, a former pupil of St Joseph’s College, Lucan, Co Dublin.
She has moved on from that, but looks back on “one of the best years of my life. I say to friends, even if they know what they want to do, ‘Do a PLC’ .”
Abbie recognises the immediate transition to college after the Leaving Cert would have been “too overwhelming, and the PLC really prepared me”.
While in Killester, she discovered she had an undiagnosed learning disability, ADHD, and supports were quickly offered. She sailed through the programme.
From there, Abbie progressed to the honours level BSc Bioveterinary Science course in the, now, Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS) Athlone campus. Once again, supports were a huge help. She benefited from tools such as Livescribe smart pen to help record lecture notes and quiet spaces reserved for students with learning disabilities that are kitted out with specialist software to assist their study.
After the PLC, veterinary nursing was her first choice for progression to higher education through the various links offered by the Killester programme. But it is a highly competitive route and, instead, Abbie accepted the place on bioveterinary science in Athlone. As it turned out, she is really happy about that “because the career options are so broad”.
Abbie (22) is now going into her fourth and final year of the degree programme and says she ”absolutely loves” it and the Athlone college: “You know everyone and everyone knows you. The teachers really engage with you and help with assignments.”
Her placements have included working in the lab of a veterinary hospital in Dublin and, currently, in Dublin Zoo.
Now that graduation is in sight, Abbie is looking to the future, and may take a year out to save money.
Either way, she is considering her next study move. She has the UCD graduate entry veterinary medicine programme in her sights and also the possibility of going to Poland – a popular destination for aspiring vets in Ireland who don’t get a college offer at home – and doing an undergraduste degree there, for which she has an offer.
“I wouldn’t really mind spending a few years in Poland. I know some people in Wroclaw already,” says Abbie.