Passionate about joining the Gardaí from a young age, South East Technological University's (SETU) BA (Hons) in Criminal Justice Studies stood out to Halannah as the perfect stepping stone to joining the force after college. Despite some rocky moments, the SETU graduate ambassador says sticking with the course was "the best decision" she's ever made.
Follow your path
When it came to picking the course that I wanted to study, I was fortunate enough that I was offered a place at SETU. I am from Rathgormack in Co. Waterford, which is about a 40-minute drive from SETU’s campuses in Waterford. It was a difficult decision to not follow my friends to other universities. However, in my head I was set on studying criminal justice in Waterford, and I am so glad I made my own decision. I think that is a really important element when it comes to going to college, to not let anyone change your mind about what you want to study, where you want to study, or what career path you want to take. It is important to make yourself happy with your decision rather than trying to impress or please other people in your life.
A university city
I felt lucky to have a university so close to home and I could not recommend studying in Waterford enough. A big part of going to college is having a social life and Waterford city certainly provides that. If I had a half day, after classes my friends and I would go out to Tramore to go for a walk or head to the arcades where we made such great memories. Of course, we enjoyed the nightlife, but the city had a lot more things to offer to help us balance our studies and life outside of college. My favourite part of studying and living in Waterford city was Winterval. It was a magical experience to have it on our doorstep, one that made studying for our end of term exams that little bit easier.
Criminal Justice as a pathway to an Garda Síochána
Since I was in my early years of secondary school, my heart had been set on joining an Garda Síochána. I have always had an interest in contributing to communities and helping to make a difference. Above all, I wanted to work with victims of crime and witnesses. SETU’s BA (Hons) in Criminal Justice Studies stood out to me as I was able to study areas such as psychology, law, criminal evidence, gender and crime, forensics, victimology and much more. The course content set me up for what I could expect by joining an Garda Síochána. The course also gives people the opportunity to work in the prison service. There are so many paths to take.
Nobody's college experience is perfect, and my story was no exception. Halfway through I began to question if this was this was the right course for me. I briefly stepped away from studying and SETU was incredibly accommodating with this. After a little self-reflection, I went back to my studies, this turned out to be the best choice I could have made. I have now graduated with my degree and hope to begin my career with an Garda Síochána within the next year. I could not be happier!
I am so glad I made my own decision. [It's] an important element when it comes to going to college, to not let anyone change your mind about what you want to study, where you want to study, or what career path you want to take. It is important to make yourself happy with your decision rather than trying to impress or please other people.SETU Graduate, Halannah White
While studying at SETU I volunteered in the Peer to Peer mentoring programme. It aims to help students transition into college. I also undertook a 10 credit special purpose award in senior mentoring and acted as a senior mentor. It was rewarding to be able to help within the college community. This included being allowed the opportunity to deliver a workshop to first year students. Taking part in this provided me with the skills that I now use in my current role as a graduate ambassador at SETU.
Linking theory with real life
For me, it was the lecturers that made the course enjoyable. As they all had experience in the criminal justice system, listening to them link theory to their real-life situations made it so enjoyable and very understanding. I felt I had a real insight into what it would have been like to be a garda, prison officer or even a solicitor. Their willingness for us to succeed did not go unnoticed. At SETU, there is a connection between students and lecturers, and I am not sure if I would have gotten that anywhere else. I was Halannah to them, not just a number. I know many other students would agree with me on that.
After studying at SETU for four years, I can proudly say that I have returned here as a staff member. I currently work as a graduate ambassador in the marketing office. This is a 12-month contract where I get the opportunity to work alongside the University’s schools liaison and outreach team to encourage prospective students to consider higher education by attending career fairs and events. I also assist with SETU’s marketing activities. What’s more, I have been given the opportunity to continue my studies at SETU by studying for a part-time certificate in digital marketing and social media. I hope to carry this knowledge into my current role at SETU and (fingers crossed) my future career with an Garda Síochána.