My story: 'It is such a rewarding experience helping first years to settle'
Kerry and Alison Graham | NUI Galway
Although some school-leavers approach the move to third-level with apprehension, the Graham twins quickly cracked the winning formula for a successful transition.
Delving straight into student life greatly helped sisters Kerry and Alison Graham, from west Donegal, to settle into NUI Galway, where they are about to enter third year of their respective courses.
The pair, now 20, took two different study paths, Kerry opting for the BA (Joint Honours), studying Classics and English, while Alison followed her passion for science, but their shared enthusiasm for extra-curricular life sees them pursuing some similar non-academic interests.
"If you're nervous about starting off in college, I'd definitely recommend getting involved in a society to meet people with common interests. I have made many friends this way," says Kerry, a keen member of NUI Galway Literary and Debating Society.
In first year, Alison was a member of the freshers' basketball team, and, in second year, got involved with the Biomedical Science Society, and is now vice-auditor.
As well as study and societies, the sisters find time to volunteer for activities for the benefit of others, which also helps them to garner valuable experience and skills.
"We are passionate about volunteering," says Alison, who helps out on a science outreach programme, called Cell Explorers, which promotes science to children and the general public.
"In first year, I volunteered for the Cell Explorers stand at the BT Young Scientist. Last year, I volunteered at the St Patrick's Day festival, and at the Galway Science and Technology festival," she says.
In the coming year, the sisters will be lead mentors in a programme to help incoming first years to settle. They understand from their own experience that having a point of contact is reassuring to someone moving to a city for the first time, and they cannot wait to help out.
"It's such a rewarding experience helping first years coming from small towns to settle into college life and get used to living in a city," says Kerry.