My journey to NUI Galway began 18 years ago when I was born in Holles Street in Dublin.
But it was my quest for a world class education, and a desire to nurture my profound connection to my heritage that convinced me to apply to NUI Galway.
My family and I moved to New York when I was young. Growing up in the US with two Irish parents created a template for a rich and varied childhood, punctuated by west Cork summers.
All the while, I have been hosting an inner debate: should I continue on the path decided for that young child, or should I realise the life I almost had?
Throughout my adolescence, I looked eagerly to future milestones. I held in my mind’s eye clear images of my friends and I attending homecoming dances, going to games, dancing the night away at prom, and, finally, walking together at my high school graduation.
However, beyond these, the images have always been blurred. When my friends began considering whether they would go to in-state or out-of-state colleges, which bachelor degrees they would pursue, and which sororities they would join, I too tried to picture myself in this world. The one which my friends were so excited to enter; the one so frequently featured in film, so fondly recounted by friends’ parents reminiscing about glory days, so iconic to the American experience, so intrinsic to the American Dream.
I, however, have come to realise that there was always an expiration date on my American experience. Perhaps the land of opportunity is not where I am meant to find mine.
I have come to discover that this American’s dream is to return to the land of my family – my land of opportunity. The home of the brave has gifted me the courage to confidently reach for my burgundy booklet debossed with a golden harp and journey home.
I appreciate that my NUI Galway affiliation will not begin in 2020 and end in 2024. I understand that each time I call upon my NUI Galway certification – each time I present it to a potential employer or display it for clients to consult – the NUI Galway, my abiding corroborator, vouches for me.
I intend to return the favour. Each time my degree is met with the reverential recognition NUI Galway has earned and bestowed upon it, I shall not take this as compliment but a dare – a dare to match and surpass the excellence this institution ensures; a dare to perpetually prove myself meritorious of my NUI Galway degree; a dare to honour those who came before me by maintaining, and hopefully enhancing, the connotation of an NUI Galway education so that generations of NUI Galway students to come may carry an honour as great.