Daniel Harvey is a man that has had to come through a lot of obstacles to get where he is today. Between being involved in a near fatal accident coupled with as the death of his mother around the same time, Harvey's college journey has been far from straightforward.
We spoke to Daniel about his life, the DCU Access Scheme and returning to college to finish his degree.
Could you tell me your journey of how you came to study at DCU how important going to college was for you and your family?
Coming to University was a massive achievement for both me and my Mam. We didn’t know an awful lot about how to go about getting into college first of all. Where I grew up not many people went to college and even though my teachers were saying I should be thinking about college at a young age, there’s no denying that at times I thought it was a distant dream at best. To be perfectly honest it wasn’t until I got my Junior Certificate results that I actually started to believe maybe I could go to college. It was that morning I suppose that my Mam sat me down and said that I was going to college and together we started to work towards exercising options as to what courses there was within various different colleges.
My school, St Kevins, were very much tied with DCU and there were various workshops organised between the school and college, as well as many information days about different courses and the various routes into DCU. For me and my Mam, this was a fantastic opportunity to get the information we were looking for. I was very much interested in Business when I was in school carrying it through the junior cycle into the leaving certificate and the course here in DCU was very appealing as it touches on a wide range disciplines within business. Although I was studying business in the leaving certificate, I was still unsure as to what I would actually wanted to do within business whether it be management, accounting, marketing etc so this course was perfect. As well as that, we somewhat felt that we had a closer connection to DCU after all the various information days and felt that if I would get into DCU that it also wouldn’t feel like a huge drastic change coming from secondary school into college. For that reason, Business in DCU was my first choice and I can still remember the phone call accepting my place on the course! Very happy day.
You were involved in an accident at the end of first year in college. How badly did it affect you? How long did rehabilitation take?
In first year I was involved in a parachuting accident. The Parachute didn’t deploy properly and both me and the tandem master who I was attached to both went crashing to the ground. Im not going to lie but I thought I was going to die. You don’t hear many survival stories of people surviving from a fall from 10,000 feet. There’s no denying that I am a lucky guy and have perhaps exhausted all of my nine lives! I broke my back and had to undergo surgery getting metal rods in my lower back to fix my back. I broke my left arm, fractured my jaw, broke a couple of teeth and burst an ear drum. It took me a while to walk properly again and had to do so with a back brace for 12 weeks. Because my jaw was broken It was very hard to eat certain foods and lost a lot of weight as well. I began with small walks and gradually began to regain some kind of fitness with small exercises, rest and also went on a somewhat strict diet. My Mam was also ill at the time so it wasn’t our greatest of times.
After your accident you spent a couple of years working, had you given up on the idea that you would have another chance to go to college?
Unfortunately my Mam was pretty ill. She couldn’t work and because of this I had to go back to work a little earlier than I perhaps I should’ve. Between that as well as trying to focus on getting back to somewhat full fitness myself, I thought college was a past memory. My Mam passed away a little shy of a year after my accident in 2013 and meant I was living on my own now. With all the expenses that comes with I never imagined coming back to college. It was such a major transition.
Obviously between the death of your mother and the accident, you’ve gone through a lot of trauma in a short space of time. How did you cope with two such devastating events in your life?
With regards of the accident, I'll have back pain for the rest of my life. The fact that I was young at the time has probably stood testament to me. I try keep as fit as I can with walks, runs and I still try to play a little football every week. The death of my mother was a massive blow. She was in many ways instrumental in me coming to college in the first place so it was tough and still is but I suppose you just have to keep going. I've got a great network of people around me that have always been there through it all and they’re still here today wrecking my head to see if I'm ok! It’s a close bunch of people but without them I would have been lost no question.
Was it hard to give up full time work to come back to DCU to complete your degree?
I worked for around two or so years full time before I got the call from DCU Access Service who were conducting a survey as to the reasons why students hadn’t completed their degree. I can still remember the phone call like it was yesterday. I briefly explained the situation I had been in and when I was asked if id still be interested in completing my degree I jumped at the opportunity. I met with Cathy in the Access Service and within weeks I was enrolling for the following year. Financially it was tougher as I was giving up working full time and cutting my hours down drastically and with different expenses I really had to budget everything but I wasn’t going to let the opportunity go. The hardest part was actually learning how to study again, funny enough! Being out of the education system for a couple of years you forget how to take notes but I picked it up quickly again as soon as I came back.
Could You briefly describe what the DCU Access Service is and how it has helped you?
The Access Service is a wonderful service that is there to help students in socio-economically disadvantaged areas to realise their true potential. They provide a host of supports such as academic and development as well as financial supports that have no doubt eased the blow on different living expenses. With the Access service no student is a number and they are there for any student problem no matter how big or small. They are there every step of the way through your college life and have helped me with extra tuition as well as guided advice at exam time.
What are your plans for the future?
At the minute I am in my final year of business studies and specialising in Finance. Im hoping, fingers crossed that if results go well that I land myself a training contract to do my professional accounting exams. It’s a very busy year with different college work, graduate programmes, exams and trying to maintain a social life but I know it will be worth it in the long run. I never look too far in to the future and just trying to take small steps at a time.