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In a bid to demonstrate how far students have come on their educational journey, a cohort of South East Technological University (SETU) graduates were presented with career predictions written by them on a sheet of paper four years ago.

In their first year of study, Sport and Exercise Science students on SETU’s Waterford campus were asked by their lecturers to put pen to paper and predict their future career paths and goals.  

The students were amazed when the same letters written four years prior were handed back to them at their graduation ceremony at SETU Arena in Waterford recently.  

Oisin O'Neill, a graduate of Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Sport & Exercise Science, explained, “On our first day they asked us to write down what stream we thought we would go into and where we wanted to end up after in terms of a career. They said they would hold on to the letters for the four years we were in college and give it back to us on graduation to see if it lined up.” 

Revealing the words written on his letter, Oisin said, “I got mine back and the words strength and conditioning, and sports psychology were written down.” 

Practical experience

Oisin explained. “I knew going into the course that I wanted to do a sport and exercise science. I was always going to pick that stream, but I was torn between getting into sports psychology and strength and conditioning. Sports psychology will take a good bit of time to get into, but I'm currently working as a strength and conditioning coach. It was quite nice getting that back, looking back, and reflecting.” 

Speaking about the highlights of studying at SETU, Oisin said, “For me, my placement was one. It just gave me a great practical experience and really helped me develop my coaching skills and what I’m doing. Winning Student of the Year last year was another for me. I felt, it was an acknowledgment of the effort I put in for myself from my lectures. In first year, we also did a lot of fitness activities as a collective group from our course. I think we had about 100 students in it all together. It was great to get to know everyone on the course. The fact that we were in a sports course and doing active things together really helped solidify our bond.” 

Sharing what she wrote in her letter, Toni Forristal, a fellow Sport & Exercise Science graduate, said, “I actually wrote down that I wanted to do health and exercise science, specialising in that, with the ambition to work with patients in a hospital.”  

Different route

However, Toni ended up going down a completely different route than initially planned. The Waterford native is now working in a gym with a PT, concentrating more on team-based activities rather than health.  

“I think as it went to study all the modules, I realised I preferred sports, and I had more interest in that rather than the health side of things,” she said. 

Being handed the letter on graduation day showed Toni how much she has evolved since beginning the course.  

Hard-pressed to pick a highlight of studying at SETU, Toni expressed that she enjoyed it all. “I enjoyed first and second year because it was specialised, and we had a big course at the start. Coming into our final two years the class got smaller and we all got closer as well. I couldn't really pick one exact moment, but I really enjoyed it all,” she said. 


Even though Toni found the lockdowns during Covid challenging, with classes going online, she felt that it made the entire experience better. “We were only in the university maybe six months, one semester, when COVID hit. So, when we came back, we appreciated all of it a bit more because most of our time was online,” she said.  

Overall, Toni was thrilled to graduate with her classmates and highly recommends studying at SETU. “I really enjoyed it. I would encourage anyone to study at SETU,” she added. 

The BSc (Hons) in Sport & Exercise Science is a full-time, four-year honours degree course of study that can be chosen within the Exercise Sciences Common Entry Route.