Oliver’s Story

2021 Educational Enrichment Fund Scholar - University College Dublin

Epilepsy has changed my life. It has affected my relationships and my abilities. Having seizures has changed the path I find myself taking in life. Having always been volunteering in various work such as with epilepsy Ireland I found myself becoming more interested in the issues facing our community such as healthcare, medication such as the sodium valproate scandal, and funding for research and development of new epilepsy technologies such as implants and seizure monitoring devices. I became interested in campaigning for change politically after learning more about our healthcare system through being a patient for so many years and the individual rights of people, free access to healthcare, housing and education became a driving force for me to study law.

I want to affect change in my country and across Europe by developing new laws such as women who are giving birth in Irish hospitals need funding for individual 24-hour nursing staff instead of a small few nurses for the entire ward as multiple women have died of seizures. New medications such as epidiolex have been the centre of massive political campaigning here and the Irish state has made the importation of certain medications from holland for dravet syndrome epilepsy and Lennox–Gastaut syndrome particularly awkward.

I took a break between school and college to get my seizures under control before returning to education. I saw for myself what the cost of living was like when I moved out of home for a temporary period before I returned to college years later. One thing that bothered me is that in Ireland, people with epilepsy do not have a travel pass from the government. If you have a seizure you are off the road for one year. I started a petition and online campaign to bring awareness to this issue. I regularly email elected officials talking about the need for bus and rail passes to help people with epilepsy stay active in their community.

I believe with a law degree I can not only help individuals but by working on important cases I can set precedents in the Irish courts to further identify, protect and vindicate the rights of the people of Ireland under our constitution. In 20 or 30 years I see myself either as a judge or in the legislature. I want to affect law in order to make change. Ireland needs a working structured management in its healthcare system and funding that is not currently being delivered. I have seen this through being a patient for so many years and I want my journey through education to be able to reflect the issues I have had personal experiences with through epilepsy.

Law has always fascinated me. Being able to advise businesses through some of the complex legal changes to the constitution and different pieces of legislation and EU law such as GDPR regulations interests me. I was working while GDPR regulations came in and it was during a meeting with all the staff in the yacht club I was working in about it that I started searching again for courses afterward. I found the University College Dublin access course and started my journey at UCD the following September. Law is a 30-credit course per semester, but your subjects only make up 25 credits, so you take up electives. My electives in history, philosophy and international relations, and business have all lead me to social policy. I plan on starting a structured elective next September which will consist of three out of five offered subjects in one genre. This will offer a depth of knowledge in social policy and add towards a strong degree in law.


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