Family heartache spurred Julie to follow her dreams
Leaving Cert points do not have to determine students' futures.
That's according to Julie Honan (30), a first-year medical student who decided to radically change her life as a banker after her father was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour in 2011.
The Wicklow student got 420 points when she sat her Leaving Cert in 2003. She went on to study Arts International in UCD and then spent six years working in a bank.
She wasn't happy with her career choice and, following her father's diagnosis, decided to go back to college to "do something worthwhile" with her life.
"The first time I did the Leaving Certificate...I had no clue what I really wanted to do. I found it difficult to think long-term. That, combined with a complete lack of self belief, meant I really didn't really get the results I think now I would have been capable of," said Julie.
After college, and at the height of the Celtic Tiger, she applied for a job in a bank and was hired almost immediately.
"I told myself this would only be for six months. Six years later I was still there," she explains.
As the recession took hold, she grew more and more disheartened in her job. "I knew I was capable of far more but didn't know where to begin looking," said Julie.
Totally at a loss over what to do, she decided to book an around-the-world trip with her boyfriend in 2011, a journey she would never take.
"I had bought my one-way ticket. However, sadly my father was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly before I was due to leave and he was given nine months to live.
"This was obviously an absolute shock to everyone in the family. However, the one thing that struck me was, this man, my father, had adored his job working in Irish Rail. He had enjoyed every moment of his working life and was working up until the day he was diagnosed. This, coupled with seeing how quickly life can be taken, spurred me on to get out and do something worthwhile with my life," explains Julie.
Sadly her father died in 2012, before seeing his only daughter take her first-year place in UCD studying medicine.
Having passed first year with flying colours, and about to enter her second year in September, she reassured students that no matter what Wednesday brings, there are other options.
"Wednesday's results are absolutely not the be-all-and-end-all. At 18, I don't think there is any way I would have known this is what I wanted to do."