It's not every first year who sets up an award-winning business while in college, but Jack Hahessy Madigan did just that.
The 22-year-old is now in his third and final year of a Bachelor of Business in Rural Enterprise and Agri-Business, delivered jointly by Galway Mayo IT (GMIT) and Mountbellew Agriculture College.
Two years on his accolades include 'Best Established Business' in the Kilkenny Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition for his home-produced Kilkenny Rosé Veal in Windgap, Co Kilkenny, which he set up on his father's farm. His customers include 5 star hotels and Michelin star restaurants
A past pupil of Kilkenny College, his initial CAO choice was a Level 8 (honours degree) university course in project and construction management. He soon realised it wasn't the right course for him, and reapplied to the CAO the following year for the Level 7 (ordinary degree) course at GMIT, to pursue his passion for farming and business
"I always knew I wanted to work in farming, and I knew I picked the right course by the class sizes and how the lecturers knew us all by name. The lecturers helped me greatly with my studies especially when I was taking part in the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award," he said.
On completing the three-years, students have the option of transferring to the honours degree programme for another year to receive a Level 8 qualification.
"I thought that doing three years would work well for me while I was trying to establish my own business; I wouldn't feel too much pressure coming on or wouldn't be able to give the time to both work and study.
Jack also undertook a three-month work placement with Donohue Agri in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, working in the Lely robotic milking department. He says the work placement, as well as both the practical and academic side of his studies, made it the perfect course for him.