For Paul Lawlor, going home to Northern Ireland has been a little different these days since he graduated earlier this year.
The Belfast born 25-year-old graduated from the University of Cumbria with a BA (Hons) in Primary Education with qualified teacher status (QTS) in July.
Since graduating, he’s been on the road around Northern Ireland talking about his experiences at university and inspiring prospective students.
So far he has presented higher education options to over 30 schools in Northern Ireland. One of which just happened to be Paul’s old secondary school Edmund Rice College, Newtownabbey (pictured).
Now, Paul’s last appointment of 2018 will see him visit Antrim Grammar School this Thursday (20 Dec) before he takes a well-deserved break from his busy schedule.
Speaking about his job, Paul said:
“After three fantastic years studying at the University of Cumbria, I was not yet ready to leave. I felt I owed something to an institution that provided me with so many opportunities.
“Going back into my local schools and colleges to raise pupils’ aspirations and informing them of opportunities available at Cumbria is something I am passionate about.”
Before choosing to study with the university, Paul worked as a teaching assistant for three years at Holy Cross Boys’ Primary School, Belfast.
While there, he worked with three other teachers who had all graduated from the University of Cumbria and he was impressed with their knowledge and skills.
He continued: “I met other students gaining their QTS through the under graduate and PGCE routes offered by the university, and after seeing the results of the teacher training offered it was a no brainer for me to enrol.”
“Coming from a large family - I’m the oldest of seven - home is very important to me so I wanted to study somewhere close to Belfast but also have that independence.
“There are numerous modes of transport to travel back home; bus, ferry, train and flights all at a reasonable prices, which is important when being a student.
“Additionally, when the new Carlisle Airport begins passenger flights in 2019 it will be even easier for students to make the journey to and from home be they closer to Dublin or Belfast.”
The University of Cumbria is aiming to bolster its reputation in Northern Ireland where it is already held in high regard by the education sector with close links to the NI Education Authority.
In the New Year, Paul has a jam packed schedule, exhibiting at UCAS NI on 27 and 28 February 2019 at the Eikon Exhibition Centre and plans to visit many more schools across Northern Ireland.
In the run up to the UCAS deadline on 15 January 2019, the university will be offering prospective Northern Irish students contact with a current Northern Irish student, to answer any specific enquiries they may have.