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Alumni profile

Sandra Holohan

PME in Primary Education



Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh Cailíní, Cork


BSc in Finance, UCC


Hibernia College Student of the Year Award

Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College? 

There was a huge emphasis on education in my home growing up and after receiving my BSc in Finance from UCC, I continued my education, studying for professional accounting qualifications, a certificate in broadcast journalism and a yoga teacher qualification while working full-time. However, it wasn’t until I had my three lovely girls that I began to seriously consider teaching as a path for me. While researching ways to assist my girls at school, I become interested in and excited by the science of teaching. I realised I wanted to deepen my understanding of it and help children develop a lifelong love of learning. Fortunately, this desire has only deepened the more time I spend in the classroom. It is fair to say that without the flexibility that the PME with Hibernia College affords, it would not have been possible for me to qualify as a primary school teacher. While undoubtedly hard work, it allowed me to create a study schedule that suited me and my family and gave me the opportunity to make my dream come true.

What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME? 

After completing my BSc in Finance from UCC, I worked in finance in London — an experience that gave me a huge opportunity to travel and to see the world. Homesick, I came back to Cork after 10 years, where I opened a ladies’ boutique and taught yoga before becoming a full-time mum. I believe that all professions benefit from diversity, and I am confident that my life experiences inform my teaching practice and benefit the children in my classroom and the school I work in.

Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area? 

Metacognition is the ability to consider, understand and control your own thinking. Developing these skills is essential if we are to empower and motivate children to take responsibility for their own learning. Because of this, I chose to focus my research on ways teachers can foster and develop these skills in children. Every day, I apply what I have learned so as to develop critical thinkers who are better able to understand their own learning styles and use this information to go from strength to strength in the classroom and in life.

Now that you have graduated, what are your plans? 

I am currently teaching a lovely group of First Class girls in Cork City. I am focused on creating a warm classroom environment where children’s individuality is embraced and where they are comfortable and able to develop to the best of their abilities. Moreover, I am committed to continuing to develop my practice while contributing to the school community in any way possible. As the saying goes, ‘every day is a school day’, and each day, I learn something new from my students and colleagues. This is something I hope continues for a long time.

What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?

I would advise anyone starting the PME to really consider how they can make the course work for them and their unique circumstances. While there is flexibility, the two years are intense, and it is important to be organised and stay on top of the work so that you can also find time for the other things that may be important to you — exercise, coffee with friends, or movie nights with the kids. I would also recommend connecting with other people on the course (I would have been lost without the guidance and support of three very special ladies). No one will understand the experience like other students.

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