An Cosán’s BA graduates all set to lead the way in community development and addiction services

An Cosan Tallaght

Twenty-six adult learners from An Cosán community education centre in Tallaght are all set to step up to community leadership roles following their graduation at South East Technological University Carlow’s recent lifelong learning conferring ceremony. The graduates, who were joined in Carlow by their proud families and members of An Cosán staff, are already involved in their local communities and, with their new qualifications under their belts, are well placed to continue to make a positive impact.

Twenty graduated with a BA in Applied Addiction Studies and Community Development and six with a BA in Leadership and Community Development. Both degree programmes, which are delivered by An Cosán and accredited by South East Technological University (SETU) Carlow, aim to equip graduates with the necessary knowledge, competencies and skills for them to make a professional contribution to communities, groups and organisations in a local community context. With 14 of the graduates coming from Tallaght and other parts of Dublin, and the remainder representing 12 other counties – from Cork to Donegal, and Wicklow to Galway – communities across Ireland are set to benefit from the graduates’ community leadership skills.

Suzanne Leech from Jobstown, Tallaght, who graduated with a BA in Leadership and Community Development, said her experience of higher education with An Cosán was one of the most fulfilling educational experiences she had ever had. “Returning to education, especially for a woman, can be a daunting experience as there are so many situational barriers involved that may not be present for other learners,” she said. “An Cosán’s ethos of promoting inclusivity and equal access to education was paramount to my learning. They allowed blended learning and afforded me the ability to study from home while working and raising a family. “An Cosán, as an establishment, has stood the test of time as my own mother, Elizabeth, was one of the first members of The Shanty, which was the original name of An Cosán, and many years later they are still welcoming and educating the community of Tallaght.”

Suzanne, who is actively involved in a voluntary capacity in her local community, hopes to secure work in the area of community engagement, especially supporting those who face barriers to accessing education. “I feel that this is an area I could excel in and bring my expertise to,” she said. “As a community leader, I understand that leadership can have a huge effect on social change, and I look forward to bringing the skills and knowledge I have attained to make social change in my community in areas such as the economy, education and our environment.”

An Cosán Chief Executive Officer, Heydi Foster, expressed her gratitude to SETU Carlow for their ongoing support of An Cosán and their dedication towards adult learners. “This dream that has been realised for our 26 graduates today would not have been possible without our collaborative partnership with South East Technological University dating back to 2008,” she said. “SETU’s commitment to make higher education available right across Ireland to communities who might not otherwise have access to it aligns with our own vision. Our learners, who come from some of the most marginalised communities in Ireland, include early school leavers, lone parents, adults returning to education, people experiencing poverty and social exclusion, Travellers and International Protection Applicants.”

Congratulating the graduates, Ms Foster said, “The achievements we’re celebrating today cannot be taken lightly. The challenges and obstacles you have overcome to get here are unprecedented. Not only have you had to navigate your way through your course work, assignments and assessments while juggling your home lives and involvement in your local communities, but you have also navigated your way through a global pandemic, and all that that entailed. We are incredibly proud of you and we know each of you will continue to have a tremendously positive impact on your families and your communities.”  

Ms Foster said An Cosán looked forward to continuing its valuable linked partnership with SETU, which received recognition last year by the Higher Education Authority with the awarding of a Performance Fund grant. “We will continue to reach the furthest behind first through our progressive pathways to higher education,” she said, “And we look forward to expanding our successful community-based higher education programmes so that more adult learners from marginalised communities across Ireland can achieve empowerment through education.”

SETU Carlow’s Director of Lifelong Learning, Rosemary Flynn, said: “SETU Carlow is proud to validate the work of An Cosán because together we share a set of values that enables us to build a society which is, at its core, both ethical and inclusive. An Cosán continues to help many people to find their way out of the darkness of educational disadvantage and into a future bright with hope and possibility. Congratulations and well done to the 26 wonderful graduates who we know will continue to craft a society defined by inclusion and justice.” 

An Cosán, Ireland’s largest community education provider, seeks to empower through education, with its focus primarily on early school leavers. Its unique, holistic approach sees it providing a range of wraparound supports to learners, including flexible timetables, financial support, IT support, parenting support, and one-to-one mentoring and counselling. To find out more, see www.ancosan.ie

Pictured: Suzanne Leech, Abosede Ogunsanya, Marie Moylan, Karen Ferris, Kevin Brown, Pamela Cullotty & Leanne Duffy. 

Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of www.newsgroup.ie with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at info@newsgroup.ie.

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