In 2016-17 two John Fitzsimons Memorial Scholarships were awarded. It is hoped that further awards with higher levels of assistance will be made in subsequent years
Here the two students explain what the award of a John Fitzsimons scholarship means.
Lisa Armstrong, Diploma in Professional Legal Practice Student
My journey from the LLB to the Diploma has been a long and difficult one and there were times when I didn’t think I would ever graduate. Over the years trying to balance family commitments with studying has been challenging but at the same time gratifying.
Initially I studied the LLB part time because I was raising a young family. I was also in a better position financially so could afford to self-fund the degree. That all changed when my son was born. He was in and out of hospital for many years and had to have numerous operations. My eldest daughter was then struck down with a rare autoimmune disorder and before I knew it I was caring for two children with long term mobility problems. This had a huge impact on our family’s finances as apart from the costs associated with looking after a child with an illness or disability, it made it difficult for my children’s father to work full time.
After I graduated I applied for the Diploma in Legal Practice in 2016 but knew that without financial assistance I would have to withdraw from the course. If it hadn’t been for the John Fitzsimons Memorial Scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to accept my place on the course this year and for that I am truly grateful.
The award of a scholarship can be life changing for a mature student like myself as I have been given the opportunity to do something that I love. I can only hope that in the future I will be in a position to contribute to the Memorial Fund and give someone the same opportunity that has been afforded to me.
Claire McBride, Part-Time LLB Student
When I received a letter informing me that I had received financial assistance towards my first year of the part-time LLB course I was really happy. I am a working mother of three children. I also have a carer's role for dependents within my family. Because of these personal circumstances I changed from a fulltime teaching job to a job share position. My salary and my husband's does not stretch very far, so finding the funding for the law course was very worrying.
I have always wanted to study law, but haven't had the opportunity to do this up until now. The funding from the John Fitzsimmons Memorial Fund has made things a lot easier for me when trying to find payment for fees and books for the law course. Because of the family, and work responsibilities I have, my life can be very busy and very stressful. However, I really enjoy the law course, it's something for me, and it makes me really happy. I have met a lot of interesting and learned professors and many friends, have learned an awful lot about law in this first year alone, and I always look forward to my interesting evening lectures. All of this has been assisted greatly by the fund I received from the John Fitzsimons Memorial Fund. I am extremely grateful to the fund.