independent

Friday 18 October 2019

Vicky gets warm welcome at IT Sligo

Over 800 undergraduate students gathered at IT Sligo last Wednesday to start their first day of college.

Among the students who enrolled was travel accessibility activist Vicky Mathew who arrived on the new fully wheelchair accessible bus from her native Ballyshannon.

Vicky campaigned for a new bus after she discovered there was no fully accessible bus on her route to IT Sligo.

She is now pushing her campaign across the country and has already achieved a commitment of 40 new buses nationwide. The first year student will be studying Sport with Business at IT Sligo and hopes to become a sports instructor for people with disabilities after she graduates.

Vicky, who was guest of honour at the Induction Day event, spoke to her fellow students and said she was excited to finally get started at IT Sligo:

"This means the world to me, it's something I've been planning for years and now I'm finally here. I was really dissapointed when I heard there was no proper wheelchair accessible bus I could use to get to my course here but I was determined nothing was going to get in my way. Above all else I want to break down the barriers to higher education and to achieve inclusion for everbody. People with disabilities need the same opportunity to access third level education as everyone else.

"I'm greatful to everyone who supported my campaign and the welcome I've received from students and staff at IT Sligo.

"I'm looking forward to being an active student on campus to make a difference for other students in similar circumstances as me."

President of IT Sligo, Dr Brendan McCormack welcomed Vicky on behalf of the Institute: "We have never asked a first year student to address an audience at Induction but this student has achieved so much in ensuring she gets to IT Sligo.

"When Vicky discovered there were no wheelchair accessible buses on her route, she demanded change.

"Last week a fully wheelchair accessible bus was added to her route. Most would have settled for that, but this remarkable women didn't stop there.

"She continues to fight for wheelchair accessible transport on every route in Ireland and we are lucky to have Vicky as a student here at IT Sligo."

Meanwhile, in a break from tradition and with an eye firmly on the enviroment, the IT changed its policy on giving out free pens on opening day. In the past the Institute, like most other third level colleges would hand out free pens, rulers, re-useable bottles and cups. This year, IT Sligo put an end to handing out plastic "freebies" during Induction and instead will donate some of the budget used for merchandise towards environmental charities including; Amazon Conservation Association, Vincent Wildlife Trust and local charity HomeTree.

Dr McCormack said the importance of the environment and a sustainable campus is an important issue especially among students:"We are currently working towards achieving the Green Campus Flag for IT Sligo. We are passionate about this commitment and have just recently recruited a sustainability officer for the campus to help us deliver a greener campus."

The President went on to tell students this is no longer merely an 'environmentalists' issue. Sustainability is now an issue that transcends most careers from finance to supply chain or production to marketing. sustainability and environmental issues is now an aspect of all business.

"Our driver in this is partly a moral imperative to do the right thing. But we also have a moral commitment to our students, to prepare them in response to the demands of society for more responsible and mindful consumers, employers and leaders of the future." Students can vote for their chosen charity via an online poll and the leading charities will be announced at a later date.

IT Sligo also welcoming a further 1,000 online students over Thursday and Friday last and is on target to reach 10,000 students by 2022 by which time the Institute will become a Technological University.

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