My name is Mei Lin Yap, and I am a woman with Down Syndrome and a graduate of Trinity College Dublin. I don’t see myself as having a disability. I am aware of my needs and recognise that I need supports in my life. However, I feel more ‘like’ than ‘unlike’ other people.

Living life with an intellectual disability can be challenging. I like to push my boundaries and show others what people with intellectual disability can do.

Who inspires me

My family inspires me to be the best I can be. They are strong individuals, successful, determined, kind and well-educated. They have supported me and encouraged me over the years to be the best I can be. My brother and my sister are two people I admire. I would like to have what they have – to work, live independently, to be in a relationship, to be able to get married, to have an active social life.

I try to stay involved and create opportunities to meet people by keeping up my hobbies and interests and developing my working life. The most important person in my life is my mother she is the number one person that I can share just about everything with. She is the one who helps me, provides for me, supports me, and encourages me. She is my mother and my friend; she means the world to me. I also have a very affectionate dog called Murphy, Murphy is a Maltese/Shih Tzu cross, known as a Malshi.

My Education

I went to mainstream school, and I got a few hours of resource teaching a few days per week at primary level. My mum felt strongly, that I should be educated with my peers. This was beneficial for me and my school was very welcoming.

When it came to second level education, my school of choice, where all my school friends were going, refused me a place without even asking about my abilities. However, St. Tiernan’s Community School, let me sit their entrance exam and contacted my mum to say they felt I could do 9 subjects in the junior cert.

I got support at school, and my mum was always pushing for as much support as possible. I participated in school life and I felt accepted. I feel that the right supports give me wings to do what I want to do. After second level, I successfully completed the PLC in Business Technology with Marketing at St.Tiernan’s College of Further Education. I have a Certificate in Software Applications from Stillorgan College, a Diploma in Event Management & PR from Dublin Business School and I am a graduate of the Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice course in Trinity College.

The Certificate in Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice is a two-year full-time programme. For me it was a big deal to be a university student and to attend Trinity was one of my proudest boasts. Having the opportunity to be a university student, be exposed to normal experiences of college life, really did help shape me and build my confidence.

My employment journey

Work is important to me, as I feel I can contribute in society. Through the Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice course at Trinity I got work experience in A&L Goodbody Solicitors, Bank Of Ireland, Bus Eireann, and Trinity College Sports Centre. This was invaluable; during these placements the staff were very welcoming and supportive. I have since had several part time jobs at Starbucks, Espion, a data protection company, and Med Mark Occupational Healthcare provider.

I have worked in St. Vincent’s University Hospital as a permanent part time Grade 3 Clerical Officer. I also got an opportunity through John Kubiak to be part of a team being supported as self-advocates to become co-lecturers in the School of Social Work and Social Policy in Trinity College. This was a very exciting project, with the intention to help prepare a course for social work students called How to Support People with Disabilities.

I enjoy writing and have written several articles for online magazine Frontline, Irish Voice of Intellectual Disabilities and am also the editor of Frontline’s social media sites. As well as this I’m involved in the Connect People Network. The CPN Self Advocacy Group are a group of people with extra support needs who travel around the country giving lectures and talks on issues to do with disability and sexuality to social work and social care students in universities and colleges.

Finally, in 2016 I was lucky enough to meet Anne Heraty the CEO of Cpl, Recruitment Agency and her colleagues at an event organised by the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities. My original work placement in Cpl was supposed to be for 6 months, then in 2017, I was made permanent. You have no idea how much this means to me.

It is all of these people that have enabled me to develop my fullest potential and forge a successful path in life.  As a person with an intellectual disability I am aware that when we dream big and others dream big for us then we can achieve our potential. Having a job makes me feel truly accepted and included in society.

What Now?

You can see from my story that I have had supports throughout my life and this had enabled me to become a productive participant in society. My motivation in life is the desire to succeed and the urge to reach my full potential.

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