'I never thought I would be going to Trinity. I am the first in my family to go to university; I can't wait'
My Story: Niamh Barnes, Trinity College
Niamh Barnes is the youngest of a family of four, and the first to go to university.
The 18-year-old is preparing to start as an undergraduate at TCD next month, having already been a star pupil in the college's foundation course for students from communities in the greater Dublin area with low rates of participation in higher education.
Niamh, from Ringsend, Dublin was one of 27 young students on the course, run by the Trinity Access Programme (TAP), and she graduated over the summer with a "merit".
Despite her heavy commitment to her studies, Niamh is also a keen soccer player and lines out for Raheny United in the League of Ireland
The former pupil of Ringsend College, knew the points for her preferred CAO course, psychology, were out of reach, which is why, after doing the Leaving Certificate last year, she opted to enter the TAP programme, rather than take the lower preference CAO course she was offered.
The TAP students specialised in one of three areas - sciences, social sciences or arts - and spent a demanding year, in small class groups learning not only about their area of specialisation, but taking modules in guidance, study skills and information technology.
Niamh re-applied to the CAO, this year using her TAP results rather than CAO points, and when the first round offers land today she is hoping for a place in either Social Studies, Sociology and Social Policy or the Business, Economics and Social Studies (BESS).
Meanwhile, she explored her options in the business world by undertaking a summer internship position in Grant Thornton, which is a partner on the TAP programme.
The career development and mentoring programme offered by Grant Thornton aims to remove some of the barriers students from low-skilled backgrounds can experience in progressing into the professional labour market.
Throughout the past year, Niamh has never lost focus of the prize of a CAO place in the country's oldest university, which, although only a stone's throw from her home, has been a much greater distance in terms of accessing it for third-level.
"I never thought I would be going to Trinity; the past year has been brilliant and I can't wait for September," says Niamh.
Niamh is pictured at the TAP graduation ceremony with her proud parents, Michael, who works as a porter in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and Anne, who works in the Gloucester Street Sports Centre.