Search icon


24th Aug 2015

In Her Shoes: “It Might Have Taken Me 10 Years To Get To College, But The Journey Was Worth Every Step”

"No regrets."


“No regrets.”

With Leaving Cert results and CAO offers to the forefront of students’ minds at the moment, we caught up with reader Joanna in the second part of our #InHerShoes series to talk about that fateful day, and how she decided to skip going to college at the age of 17.


I remember the day I got my Leaving Cert results all too well. I hadn’t really cared much for school, but presumed it would all work out well in the end.

It didn’t. I did terribly.

I remember staring at my results in absolute shock and disbelief. I suppose I thought that I was untouchable. But reality kicked in really quickly.


It almost felt like an out of body experience – not to sound too dramatic. I felt like I could see myself standing there outside the school with the world as I knew it crashing down around me.

Okay,  I may have a bit of an over-active imagination, but that’s truly what it felt like.

I stumbled from the school grounds not really sure what to do. I knew my mother and my little sister were waiting in the car for me to come back and I just couldn’t bear the look on their faces.

Pretty Hispanic teen stressed out during a test for high school

You know that look… not angry, but disappointed.

I’d like to say that right then and there I vowed to get my life sorted and figure out what I wanted, but I suppose, I actually went completely in the opposite direction.

I told everyone who knew me how little I cared about my results, and nearly tried to make it cool that I hadn’t done as well as I’d hoped.

That lasted for about four weeks. Until they all headed off and went to college.


Still immersed in my disdain for the education system, I got myself a job in my local shop and after nearly getting fired twice for coming into work severely hungover, along with some stern words from my mother, I finally started to pull myself together.

I started to do well at work, and was promoted to manager just 18 months later.

As the chain of shops got bigger and expanded, I got promoted to Area Manager and soon, I was over an entire province.


My mother was proud of me, my sisters looked up to me and I finally felt comfortable in my own shoes.

By the age of 26 though, I still felt like I had missed out on something. I had a talk with my bosses at work and they agreed that I could go to college.

The following year – almost exactly 10 years after I missed out on college the first time round – I enrolled in university.

It was hard walking through those gates with 16, 17 and 18-year-olds, but I didn’t let it get to me and in fact, made a brilliant group of friends over the years.


I kept my job going part-time, juggled course work and classes and managed, three years later, to emerge with a degree in Business.

Looking back, I don’t think I was ready for college when I was 17. I was never inclined to study and was very immature for my age.

To go from the local corner shop to the manager of a massive area was a huge achievement for me and to finish all of that off with a degree at the end of it was probably my finest hour.


I got to wear my graduation hat and my mother got her pictures, finally.

I smiled that day so hard it almost hurt.

And when I got home that night, the smile turned into tears – tears of happiness – as I placed that precious degree on my chest of drawers.

Mission accomplished.

It might have taken 10 years to get there, but the journey was worth every single step.”