Joy-Tendai Kangere, originally from Zimbabwe and now living in Firhouse, was recently elected as a learner representative to the board of AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation.

Ms Kangere returned to learning to study a Bachelor of Civil Law degree in UCD Sutherland School of Law while balancing family life with two young children.

During her time in UCD, she advocated for people under-represented at third level to access and participate fully in third level education. After receiving the prestigious Denham Scholarship, Joy is now training as a Barrister at King’s Inn.

Speaking to Dublin Gazette Joy said her experience of returning to study as an adult means she understands the challenges involved.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity to advocate and be a voice for adults returning to education,” she said.

“I have the chance to change things like policy through sharing people’s stories.

“I think the biggest barriers to adult education are issues with finances, childcare and accommodation.

“These are the ones that constantly come up. Another important issue in returning to education is the need for a good network of support.

“Because I am originally from Zimbabwe I didn’t have any family here in Ireland who could help me with childcare.

“I had help from some good friends and other mothers from my children’s school but sometimes I had no choice but to take my children to lectures with me, for example when the school was on mid term break.

“I think for non nationals education is one of the best ways to integrate into a country.

“Education has given me the chance to learn important insights about life in Ireland.

“Anyone thinking of getting back into education should contact any of the institutions or AONTAS and they will help you.”