Last Saturday, myself and eight of my classmates went to the university of Maynooth to graduate from the disability studies course that we completed in May this year. We had an early start, and were in Maynooth for less than 24 hours but it was worth the trip.
I traveled with another student, our lecturer and a personal assistant who came to help. The others traveled in a van we had borrowed which was able to accomodate a few people who had wheelchairs. O.J. came too of course, and he got lots of attention during the day.
The graduation ceremony itself was really relaxed and informal, with only my class and another group who did the same course in Dublin graduating together. This meant that we didn’t have to wait forever for lots of students to get certificates, and what was even better was that we didn’t have to go up on to a stage. The nicest part of the afternoon was when a few people had been asked to speak about their experiences on the course and what they gained from studying on it. We got some photos after, before going back to our hotel for food and drinks. It was lovely to spend the evening meeting the other students, as well as having a relaxing time with our own class, not having to discuss work or assignments. I was one of the last few people to go to bed, and we were up early next morning for breakfast and a quick tour of the university before heading home.
Organising the graduation wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever been part of, and some people would have been happy to just have it in Letterkenny where we did the course. It wouldn’t have meant as much to the students, and the fact that we could come to Maynooth and graduate properly made all the hard work and studying worthwhile. This course has changed how I think about, and interact with people with disabilities for the better, and if the diploma that’s planned for a couple of years time goes ahead, I’d definitely consider doing it.