Jean had been 29 years out of school when she decided to follow her dream of becoming a primary school teacher. But she almost abandoned her ambition when she faced her first college exam. “It was horrendous. I cried my eyes out on leaving the exam hall. Then I phoned Frank Brady from JUST and he invited me over for a coffee. We had a great chat, and he assured me I knew what I needed to know, and prepared me for my next exam the following day.”
Jean feels she got a second chance at life and she’s encouraging other locals facing a new term to get in touch with JUST. “Don’t be put off by the name Jesuit”, she said. “People automatically think it’s a religious setting, but it’s not. They are all qualified to work with education: all they want to do is help and encourage people to fulfil something in their lives regardless of what area they choose.”
Fr Frank Brady, whom Jean contacted in her hour of need, is just one of the devoted team members of JUST. He works as a Jesuit in Ballymun, and is actively trying to encourage students to participate in the programme.
Karl Murphy (20) was approached by Frank while working at his part-time job in Centra. Karl, who completed and passed his Leaving Certificate, secured a place in DCU to do a Science degree. But in January he decided to leave the course and make the transition to economics, law and politics. Karl had never heard of JUST, and admits he would have thought differently if he knew the Jesuits were involved, until he met Frank. He received great support from JUST, and has now secured a place on his choice of course in DCU. “One of the team actually came to DCU and met me for lunch while we explored my options. I found the service really friendly,” he said. “It’s unbelievable to think there is an organisation like this, so committed, so selfless. They give with nothing to gain.”
Both Jean and Karl are now active in the JUST programme, receiving one-on-one tutoring, and attending the monthly group meetings which bring students together so they can bounce ideas off each other. Apart from offering academic assistance through various tutors, JUST also focusses on the personal development of each individual student, offering public speaking exercises, essay-writing classes and even social gatherings such as plays, concerts and other local events.