'I've a much clearer view of the future'
LOOKING back it seems like a different life, says student Neasa Fitzpatrick who sat her Leaving Cert in 2010.
The 21-year-old from Waterville, Co Kerry, got a staggering result, with eight A1s ensuring that she went to Trinity to study medicine.
"It was different to how I thought it was going to be," admitted Neasa, a past pupil of Caherciveen Community College, claiming it was "a lot more challenging".
"This was the first year we got to go on the hospital wards for the first time – it's very different to the academic side and sometimes very nerve-wrecking," she said. "It's a very intimate setting and you feel very honoured to be there with the patients at this time."
This summer she will head off with three other students to work in a children's hospital in Nepal for four weeks on a voluntary basis. "It's a great chance to work in a Third World country – I think it will be life-changing."
Going to university as an idealistic youngster, Neasa plunged into college life with enthusiasm and now feels much more of a "grown-up".
"When you do your Leaving Cert you feel that all your options are open and the whole world is in front of you," she said. "Now I'm in college, I feel I'm heading down a path towards a goal and have a much clearer picture of what I'm going to be doing later in life."
With another two years of study ahead of her, Neasa has not yet decided if she will specialise in a particular field or become a GP. "I think it's too early to tell at this stage – I like the idea of specialising but the life of a GP is very varied."