Olufunke Ollarinoye

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Studying for the BSc in Management of Information Technology/Information Systems at DCU helped Olufunke to get her life on track after a family tragedy.


For Olufunke Ollarinoye, her DCU experience was the key to escaping “a very dark place” following the death of her daughter. She says the challenge of studying for the BSc in Management of Information Technology/Information Systems gave her a fresh focus as she struggled with her grief.

Temitope was just 6 years old when she died in Temple Street Children’s Hospital following a four-year illness. Olufunke and her family, who are originally from Nigeria, were living in the Baleskin Reception Centre in Finglas at the time. During the difficult years of her daughter’s illness, much of Olufunke’s time was dedicated to being at Temitope’s bedside in the hospital.

In many ways, Olufunke recalls, the task of keeping a watchful eye on Cemitope’s medical monitors and devices gave her a routine that provided some distraction from the terrible reality of the situation. “That was the life I knew,” she says. Olufunke didn’t realise quite how serious her daughter’s condition was until very near the end. “It just happened so fast, and she just died suddenly.”

In the months and years that followed, Olufunke admits that it was hard to cope with the profound grief she experienced. Despite receiving mental health support and treatment, she still felt at a loss. “When she died, suddenly I couldn't find my place in the world anymore.” 
At one point, a counsellor suggested that taking on a new challenge could help to fill the void. But it wasn’t until some time later that a visit by DCU’s University of Sanctuary team to Mosney provided a possible answer. When they told her about the newly introduced University of Sanctuary scholarships, Olufunke jumped at the opportunity. “I was like, OK this is it!”

Olufunke successfully applied for the scholarship and was accepted on the BSc in Management of Information Technology/Information Systems. She threw herself into the challenge of learning coding, among other aspects of the programme, and says that her background in accountancy and her strong maths skills gave her a head start. She also praises the approachability of her lecturers and the supports provided by the University of Sanctuary team.

Overall, the programme gave her great confidence. “The entrepreneurship course we did was just, wow! If I wanted to set up a company, I know how to go about it. I know where to get the funds and how to go for government approval.”

Above and beyond the positivity of learning new skills, Olufunke says the course transformed her emotional state. “Gradually, I was healing,” she says. “Now I could channel my energy into something else, and that really helped me.”

While completing the programme part time, Olufunke secured a job with Irish Life. The role is in the financial sector rather than IT, but she says her DCU degree gave her many transferable skills, which are helping her to advance professionally. “I’ve been doing my professional [accountancy] exams and I've just been passing all of them because I’m using the skills that I learned in DCU. I'm transferring them back to my professional exams, and I've been scoring good grades.”

After she began studying for her degree, Olufunke was granted residency status and moved out of the direct provision system. She volunteers as Youth and Charity Officer in the Prince of Peace Charity. This involves visits to the residents in the Mosney direct provision centre where she enthusiastically promotes the University of Sanctuary scholarship programme to the residents. She proudly says that she has persuaded five others to follow in her footsteps to DCU. 

Looking back, she says her time at the University was a turning point. “DCU helped me put my life in a different perspective”, she said. “It's just a very lovely place.”

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