WEST CORK: Here’s what our previous graduates are doing – St Brogan’s College Bandon enlist Past Pupils to speak to current students

27 November 2017
By Mary Bermingham


“If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything,” words immortalized by silver screen hero Marty McFly, and echoed throughout the corridors of St. Brogan’s College this evening at their ‘Back for the Future’ event. The first initiative of its kind, this careers evening took place at St. Brogan’s College, Bandon, from 7pm to 8pm, and invited past pupils back through the doors to share their first-hand experiences and career paths with current students looking to potentially follow in their footsteps.

Students and parents were welcomed to this Past Pupil Programme with an arrival reception and words of wisdom from Mr. Pat McKelvey, Director of Schools, Cork Education and Training Board, and Ms. Helen Cadogan, Principal, St. Brogan’s College – both of whom have harvested years of experience aiding with the stresses and confusion the Leaving Certificate and Further Education and Training can cause for students and parents alike. While parents were invited to listen to a talk from Citizen’s Advice on how to fill out college forms, speak to the St. Brogan’s College Guidance Teacher, Ms. Murphy and browse through college prospectus, 6th year students had the opportunity to conduct one to one meetings with past pupils, who fastened their seatbelts as the DeLorean took them Back for the Future!

Students interested in a particular career path or confused between similar sounding college courses took this fantastic opportunity to demystify their future by questioning past pupils, who were once in their shoes, and went beyond the college prospectus to find out what a particular path is really like.

The mastermind behind this innovative event, St. Brogan’s teacher Teresa Vaughan commented on her inspiration for this successful new programme, “This Back for the Future initiative came to me last year when a student was writing an essay about their future and the topic of college arose. The student was torn between two options and I just happened to suggest speaking to someone already doing the course. This was something they had never considered, actually talking to someone instead of Googling seemed a very strange concept, which in turn got me thinking. I felt past pupils were an underutilised resource in every school. Good will and that sense of belonging lasts long after the uniform has been discarded and I thought that it would be wonderful if our past and present pupils could link up and discuss their ‘common’ courses, and I am delighted to say that the success of this evening, has proven this to be true. The atmosphere was fantastic and has opened a positive dialogue between parents, students and the school on possible paths following graduation.”

Past students studying Civil Engineering, Biochemistry, Business Studies, Agriculture, Medicine and Computer Science, to name but a few, spoke with current Leaving Certificate students and discussed what their course consisted of; the difficulties, pitfalls and positive aspect. It really allowed current students to get a personal first-hand account of where their future could take them, and what would be in store when they got there.

Pat McKelvey, Director of Schools, Cork Education and Training Board commented, “We wanted to encourage all of our Leaving Certificate students in their specific third level endeavours, so the wonderful staff at St. Brogan’s College devised this ‘Past Pupil Programme’, where past pupils returned to talk to our present pupils on a one to one basis. By speaking to a student who is already doing their course, our current cohort was able to attain information and a uniquely personal insight into their course, not available anywhere else. It was also a wonderful opportunity to bring our past pupils back to their school and to strengthen their ties with the school community, embedding a sense of pride in our Brogan’s family.”

This evening not only facilitated to pave a clearer path for students, and helped them make those all-important decisions, but it also offered the potential for some financial support for their journey. To the great excitement of all in attendance, the inaugural Brogan’s Bursary was launched. Donated by a local business the sum of €1,000 will be awarded to a Leaving Certificate student to start them off and support them in their next phase of Further Education.

For more information on the Brogan’s Bursary, Back for the Future event, or to enquire about enrolling for the upcoming academic year check out www.sbc.ie, contact the school on 023 8841120 or via e-mail at admin@sbc.ie. For images from this event and to keep up to date with other initiatives and events taking place in the school, follow them on Facebook/stbrogans or Twitter @brogan_st.

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