Shepherd Machaya

Profile picture of Shepherd Machaya

Shepherd was midway through his BSc when he was given five days to leave the country, but his fellow students campaigned to stop his deportation.


“I don’t want to lie to you, I started crying,” says Shepherd Machaya when he recalls the moment he received the offer of a place at DCU. “And it was my birthday!” he adds with a smile. 

In 2017, Shepherd was one of the first group of students to be awarded scholarships under DCU’s University of Sanctuary initiative. Shepherd, who is originally from Zimbabwe, was living in a direct provision centre in Portlaoise at the time. He had a Level 5 Computer Science qualification under his belt but was anxious to advance his qualifications. 

Shepherd admits he was nervous taking on the BSc Management of Information Technology/Information Systems. However, the University of Sanctuary team was full of encouragement and gave him “confidence that I was on the right path.”

As an asylum seeker, University presented a unique set of challenges. At his direct provision centre he had to share a bedroom, which did not always make studying easy. But even greater obstacles lay ahead.

“I was given five days to leave the country,” recalls Shepherd of the day that he received a deportation order from the Department of Justice. 

Not knowing what else to do, he called DCU chaplain Philip McKinley for advice. “I said to Philip, look I have a problem here. I might not see you again.”

What happened next was a whirlwind of activity, as DCU’s students and University staff rowed in to support him. The Students’ Union, led by then-president Vito Moloney, launched an S.O.S (Save Our Shepherd) campaign, which made national headlines. The University organised legal representation and, just in time, the deportation was put on hold.

“It’s something that I will never forget,” says Shepherd. However, it wasn’t until 2021 that he received confirmation of his ‘permission to remain’ in Ireland.

Despite all the turmoil, Shepherd studied hard, achieving a 2/1 honours degree. “I told myself, I’m not going to give up.”

He is full of praise for DCU staff, “In terms of the teaching, I would say ten out of ten.” Shepherd also credits the support he received from the Sanctuary Scholarship team throughout his time at the University.

Now living in Dublin, the degree has given him opportunities to work in the IT field with companies such as Cobalt and SAP, and he has ambitions to gain new professional experiences in areas like cybersecurity.

For Shepherd, it's the friendships and connections made during his DCU experience that stand out the most. “This University took me in its arms like a mother takes care of a child,” he says. “They took me and they said, we are family.”

DCU Prospectus - Go back to Management of Information Technology / Information System