My story: ‘Friends I made on my second day are among my closest’


My story: ‘Friends I made on my second day are among my closest’

Jason McKillen | UCD

Politics and Economics student Jason McKillen pictured at UCD. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Politics and Economics student Jason McKillen pictured at UCD. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Although Jason McKillen didn’t start out studying Economics, Politics and International Relations at UCD, he seemed destined to follow that path.

At only 15, he was chosen to travel to the US to take part in the Ulster Project, an organisation that has been working with teenagers in Northern Ireland and the United States since the 1970s, to educate them and develop them as leaders to effect change in their communities. Social sciences were always where his interest lay.

Fast-forward to a day trip to Dublin where Jason, from Co Antrim, tagged along with a friend who was going to the UCD Open Day, and where he was struck, in particular, by a lecture on politics.

While politics was a passion of his, Jason veered towards the information and computing field, where he felt there were would be better job prospects.

He started studying Economics, Information and Social Computing with Italian, but in first year realised that Information and Social Computing was not what he had expected.

He also started hearing more about the variety of job opportunities available to Politics graduates.

He completed first year, but also met with the undergraduate programme administrator in UCD’s School of Politics and International Relations and discussed the possibility of transferring to study Politics and International Relations along with his original choice of Economics. They advised him to attend some of the Politics lectures before making any final decisions.

He did, and it confirmed for Jason that he definitely wanted to transfer. He says that they made the transition seamless.

Jason (20) had to catch up on the Politics and International Relations modules during his first semester of second year and, by the second semester, he was on track and attending the same lectures as the rest of the second year students.

He lived on campus in first year and says that the friends he made on the second day in residence are still some of his closest. He found Orientation Week to be a great way of meeting more friends, through his peer mentor group and by joining societies and clubs.

Jason never thought that being a member of a society would help with coursework but, funnily enough, he found that to be the case when UCD Law Society brought Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, to campus this year. He says not only did Mr Tusk give a fascinating lecture, he also provided great content for Jason’s essays and assignments.

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What the future holds for Jason is not what he originally thought. He now plans on doing a master’s, possibly a PhD, and may even stay on in academia and lecture.

“I’d like to be the one to make a perceived ‘difficult subject’ interesting, as I’ve experienced lecturers at UCD who have done that for me.”

His advice to incoming first years is not to worry, pointing out that he picked the ‘wrong’ subjects for him at the start but is now studying subjects he enjoys so much that it doesn’t feel like work.

Irish Independent

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