Debra Sherlock


Professional Social Care



Why did you decide to study with Carlow College?

I was a stay-at-home mother for 18 years. When I decided to think about going back to work, I discovered my qualifications were now defunct I did some research and discovered Carlow college. The college had been recommended to me as a good place for mature students, its size making it less intimidating, and the larger intake of mature students making it more inclusive. My confidence was at all time low, so I completed a back to work course with St.Catherines community services in Carlow. I then had the confidence to apply to the Social Care degree in St.Pats. My first meeting was with John McHugh. He inspired me to continue with my application, making me feel at ease and confident in the fact that a mature woman still has something to offer. I began in September 2019. On that first day, my hopes were just to get through the first term! However, as I met the lecturers, I was began to believe I could do this. I began to envision a future for myself beyond being being a mother. My life skills and experience were valued.

What aspects did you like most about your course

I loved the interactive nature of lectures, getting involved in discussions with people of all ages and different back grounds. All modules with Lucy Benntt were ones I looked forward to. I also found that all the lecturers brought their own work experiences with them, so we were given practical examples of what social care looked like beyond the classroom. Second year brought a work placement and my old self esteem issues came back to haunt me! Thankfully, with the support of Monica Dowling, I completed my work placement, and discovered this was a job I could do and do well. My confidence soared.  

Did you have to overcome any challenges in your pursuit of your third level studies?

I have four children, one with autism, so the challenges to overcome were very personal ones. However, I found the reflective nature of the social care course, helped me to develop and grow, both personally and professionally. Things I may have seen as a challenge or an obstacle, upon reflection, can take on a different meaning.

How did your studies help you to get you to where you are now?

When I graduated from the level 7 in social care, I began working for a mainstream residential company, while completing my level 8. I am now a key worker for a 16-year-old engaging in aftercare, a role I was given based on my dissertation. I am currently completing a course provided by my employer in supervision, so I can progress to team lead in the near future. I recently took part in a policy review for the company, and the policies have just been sent out to all our houses. I am also part of a working group run by The Social Care Employers Forum to promote and bring awareness to the work being done in residential care.  


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