University of Galway and Grant Thornton celebrate 5 years of mentoring programme

galway daily news access centre mentoring programme 5 years
From left: Paul Dodd, Vice President for Engagement, Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Academic Manager Access Centre; University of Galway students Mario Mereuta, Linda Mhelembe, Mamadou Saliou Bah, Shannon Lydon, Alan Welby and Nathan Martin, and Aengus Burns, Advisory Partner at Grant Thornton. Photo: Aengus McMahon

University of Galway’s Access Centre and Grant Thornton have celebrated five years of their joint Professional Engagement Module — an experience-based module of learning for Access students.

Over an eight-week period, Access students are assigned a mentor from Grant Thornton Galway and take part in a specifically designed module of structured, interactive learning.

As a result of taking part in the programme, students gain exposure to the professional environment, develop career skills, and increase their career readiness.

The mentoring, time spent in the Grant Thornton offices and workshops run as part of the module combine to give the students self-belief around progression in education and in planning for their careers.

Aengus Burns, Advisory Partner with Grant Thornton, said: “We believe it is very important to show students through the Access Programme what opportunities there are in this industry, how Grant Thornton interacts with its own staff and clients, and present opportunities to these students.”

Vice President for Engagement at University of Galway, Dr Paul Dodd, said that the programme speaks to the “importance of diverse learning experiences and collaborations” with the wider community and industry.

“The benefits of this relationship between the Access Centre and Grant Thornton are very apparent in the way that the students speak about their mentors and the motivation it has given them to persist and strive for success within their chosen courses,” said Dr Dodd.

The Access Programmes are for those with the ability to benefit from and succeed in higher education but who, for a variety of socio-economic reasons, are under-represented at third level.

Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Academic Manager in University of Galway’s Access Centre, said the programme offers a very exciting opportunity to our students to engage in a professional setting, and to experience the support and encouragement of dedicated committed professionals, this will benefit our students enormously.”

University of Galway Access student Nathan Martin said: “To visit the Grant Thornton offices and see how things operate in a real business setting, not just theorizing it, actually getting to see it in action, is hugely beneficial to us.

“It keeps our drive going. That for me fermented it in my own head that I really do want to do the course that I have chosen, and I believe for my fellow students it has given them the same passion and drive to keep going as well.”