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Exam's a family affair for mum and son


Karl Graham (18) and his mother Paula.

Karl Graham (18) and his mother Paula.

Karl Graham (18) and his mother Paula.

When Karl Graham (18) sits down to his first Leaving Certificate exam today, his mother Paula (pictured with him, above) won't be at home wondering how he is doing.

Instead, the 47-year-old will be in a nearby college starting her own Leaving Cert exams.

Paula, a mother of three, is one of those better-late-than-never candidates, returning to the books more than 30 years after she dropped out of school at the age of 15.

Paula, still lives in Ballymun, north Dublin, where she grew up, married and had children -- her eldest are 24-year-old twins Carrie and Dean.

She worked in what she describes as "dead-end" jobs, such as in factories and catering companies.

She also suffers with a skin condition, which forced her out of the workplace for a number of years.

But her life changed when her daughter Carrie graduated as a teacher from St Patrick's College, Drumcondra.

"When I went to her graduation and saw people who were older than me getting their awards, I couldn't believe it," said Paula.

As it happens, Carrie had been trying to persuade her mother to go back to school.

And after that experience, Paula didn't need any more convincing to undertake a two-year Leaving Cert programme at Plunket College in Whitehall.

"I haven't looked back," said Paula, who is taking seven subjects in the exam.

While Paula will be in Plunket College, Karl will be in the nearby Trinity Comprehensive, Ballymun.

Irish Independent