AN IRISH teen born without arms and legs celebrated a double triumph after scoring an excellent Leaving Cert and being awarded a prestigious university scholarship.
Joanne, who collected her results at Millstreet Community School, has been offered a Quercus scholarship as part of an active citizen programme which acknowledges individuals work within the community.
Joanne was left gobsmacked by the offer as it will essentially provide her with all the necessary tools to have a great college experience.
“It’s a fantastic day; I have always wanted to go to university and be part of a wider network of education. What UCC have offered me is simply unbelievable,” said a delighted Joanne on Wednesday. “I have always wanted to show people that, irrespective of your disability or background, you can achieve the best in life if you set your mind to it.”
Despite Joanne saying on TV earlier in the week that her mum, Ann, could be glad to have a quieter house now, she is, in fact, just happy her daughter is continuing her education. “Joanne has been extremely lucky with her education and while over the years we’ve had to fight to get her certain things to help her, the fight has been worth it,” said mum Ann.
Her equally delighted father, Joe, added “When Joanne sets her mind to doing something she does it. As a father I’m so proud of her simply because the start she had in life was difficult but we have jumped those hurdles and this is what has happened.”
Joanne will begin her studies in a matter of weeks, where she will start a three year process of studying criminology.
“I’ve always been interested in crime and how a criminal behaves, I like the idea of trying to get into a criminal’s mind and hopefully try to understand them and why they commit the crimes they commit,” said Joanne.
Having had a ball at her debs last week, Joanne emphasised that education should be inclusive and open to all abilities. “I want people to know and understand that education is a way to a better life,” she said.
“UCC have transformed the complex in which Joanne will live for the next three years. “They have gone the extra mile in adapting the house I will live in.
“They are making the environment in which I will study more accessible. I hope that these changes will not only help me but others like me,” said Joanne.
“Today is not just a good day for people with disabilities, it’s a great day! Roll on the good times – #UCCWATCHOUT.”