A mother-of-three who has gone from hunger and near homelessness to enjoying a prestigious career with a high-profile corporate is calling on “scared and hidden” adults to embrace change by taking a step into adult community education. Addressing An Cosán supporters at a Winter Ball fundraiser in The Shelbourne on Friday 11th November 2022, Korina Koler said her life had been transformed since signing up two years ago to a course with An Cosán, Ireland’s largest community education provider. The Level 5 Business Administration with Digital Skills programme she completed in January had boosted her confidence and equipped her with essential digital skills for working in an office environment.
Korina, who is originally from Croatia but has lived in Dublin the past seven years, said she was now enjoying her new role as PA to the CEO of Rethink Ireland, Deirdre Mortell. She is in the third year of a BA degree programme in Business Enterprise and Community Development with the Technological University of Shannon Athlone. All while bringing up three young children. Korina shared with the audience how anxious she felt returning to education. “However, all of my concerns vanished during my first class at An Cosán,” she said. “The tutors were amazing; they cherished everyone’s different backgrounds and treated everyone the same. They understood my skills and flaws, and they supported me through every stage of my transition to a new approach to life. I had never experienced such support from an educational institution.”
Korina shared how An Cosán’s unique education model, which includes holistic wraparound supports (financial, IT and parenting support as well as one-to-one mentoring and counselling), enabled her to make the changes she wanted to see in her life. “My dreams have come true,” she said. “I have since been hired by an amazing organisation and I will soon hold a BA degree. I am happy and content and I am a role model for my children. I truly believe that only the sky’s the limit now.”
Korina said that people facing difficult circumstances, “scared and hidden individuals” like she had been, could be “brought back to life” with the support of organisations like An Cosán, so that they could make real change in their communities. “I believe all of us can contribute in some way to helping other people embrace change, so that we can all be involved in rebuilding society,” she concluded.
Thanking Ms Koler for sharing her story, Keith Duffy, MC for the Winter Ball, said: “Thank you, Korina, for the privilege of hearing your story. No wonder An Cosán is proud of you! It is clear to me that An Cosán is making a huge difference in people’s lives, and that what makes An Cosán different is the warm embrace they have for learners, and how much they support learners on their journey of empowerment through education. The more I learn about the organisation, the more I am in awe.
“With its bold and ambitious new strategy, Vision 2026: Transforming Lives Together, An Cosán plans to provide education to an additional 20,000 learners by 2030. This is as many in the next seven years as they have supported over the last 36 years. It’s a step change in ambition with ambitious goals, but with strong and inspirational leaders, like the Chair Anna Durkan and CEO Heydi Foster, at the helm, I have no doubt that this goal will be achieved, resulting in transformed lives and stronger communities across Ireland.”
Over €40,000 was raised by the Winter Ball. These funds will support An Cosán’s work providing adult education, early years’ education and mental health services in West Tallaght and in communities across Ireland.
Pictured: Chair Anna Durkan (left), CEO Heydi Foster (centre), Vice Chair Conal Henry & Board Mairead Butler, Bill Roche & Dee Kehoe