Blind since birth, due to a condition called Leber congenital amaurosis, by the age of 16 Paul was already winning All-Ireland judo competitions against fully sighted competitors. But his aspirations included much more than sport. In 2016 he told us, “I use the donated Braille Note I’ve been given for almost everything. I want to go on to study either music, history, astronomy, or metallic studies.” It was a future Paul was determined to achieve but getting there wasn’t easy.
Paul attended the local secondary school for the subjects he enjoyed while living as a residential student here at ChildVision. But as the time approached to sit the Leaving Certificate, it became clear that it wasn’t on Pauls’ cards.
Paul is as forthright explaining the situation as he is about every obstacle he’s faced in his life. “I knew I wanted to be in third level, and I always want to keep learning – to follow through and to do my PhD. But the Leaving Certificate was just not for me.”
Together with Paul, who is now 22, staff at ChildVision set to work. They looked at all the possible options while having him begin interviews for third level. As a result he was able to successfully receive places without the need to sit the cert. To Paul’s delight, one of those places was in the access programme in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) — the exact pathway he’d hoped for to work towards a full-time honours degree in computer science! And with the help of a scholarship, he’s still doing judo! “It’s the place for me,” Paul says contentedly. “I really enjoy the challenge. It’s good to be able to balance study and sport, and it’s the path I see myself going down.”
Currently studying applied physics and mathematics at DIT Mountjoy Square, he has now progressed onto his Honours Degree course.. “Paul did such a good interview that they wanted him as part of their college,” said Caroline, one of our team leaders in ChildVision. “He has so much to offer in terms of his intelligence and sporting ability – but he’s also just a lovely young man.”