Joanna Hogan (57) is originally from Dublin and moved to Longford seven years ago. She left school at 15 years of age to take care of her siblings after their parents were killed in a car accident.
She always regretted leaving school and had endeavoured to engage in courses throughout her life, but it wasnâ€™t until she moved to Longford in 2007 that real educational opportunities beckoned. â€œI regretted leaving school,â€ she told the Leader. â€œAfter rearing my own children, I wanted something for myself; my confidence and self-esteem needed a boost.â€
I had heard about Adult Education at Longford VEC and I made contact with it and spoke to Mary Farrell, and within a short space of time, I knew exactly the direction to take because of all the support and advice I got.â€
Joanna began with a Communications Level 3 course and this was followed by Computers for beginners and then Junior Cert English and Maths. She emerged very successful from the courses and this gave her the confidence to go further academically. â€œJean Duncan was my tutor for Communications and English and she encouraged me to go for further education, so I did,â€ Joanna continued. â€œI took up a VTOS Business & Accounting Level 6 course under the guidance of Meave Madden and I got five distinctions and three merits in the eight modules.â€
Afterwards Joanna decided to enrol on the Accounting Technician course in Athlone, however she was deemed to be â‚¬50 over the threshold for grant aid and was refused the financial assistance. So, she decided to take another look at her options. â€œI applied to the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) in Kenagh for a job and I am now a Programme Assistant with the organisation,â€ she added. â€œI absolutely love the job and enjoy working with disabled people; my own sister was disabled, so itâ€™s great to give something back. It is also thanks to Catherine Flynn, Francis Stephenson, Willie Burns and Jean Dugan that I am where I am today.â€