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Jan 2017 by PCI College

Zaytun Shah discusses winning the 2016 Liam McCarthy Scholarship

Zaytun Shah, the winner of teh 2016 Liam McCarthy Scholarship discusses her journey so far.

My Journey as 2016 Scholarship Winner


As I see the words “2016 Liam McCarthy Scholarship Winner”, I feel overwhelmingly blessed and honoured.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be a winner of such a prestigious award.  My life has forever changed and the possibility of what the future holds is exciting and filled with purpose.


As far as I can remember, I always wanted to be a counsellor, it’s more than a job to me; it’s a ‘calling’.  And completing this learning process means that I can fulfil my childhood dream.  When I think back to my childhood, my earliest thoughts were of becoming a nurse and when playing I would bandage up my brother or/and any object I could get my hands on.  I always question him/them on what they did before being injured; as if I instinctively knew of the link between behaviour and action that led to injuries.  Perhaps this way of thinking came about due to adversary as an infant; having asthma attack at two days old, I spent most of my childhood in and out of hospitals.  Growing up I always asked ‘why’ and I ended up questioning everything; trying to make sense of it all.  Like most teenagers I loved paging through magazines and inevitable discovered the “Agony Aunt” columns and wanted to become such an ‘advisor’ but that desire faded with time.


However, the dream was re-awakened as I worked as a receptionist.  Perhaps it was that I was dealing with the public or due to the support services at the family resource centre that sparked the search for training to utilise my skills in the community sector.  Family mediation was the first option that became available but it did not materialise.  I continued my search and after receiving guidance from a friend, I felt confident enough to pursue my dream career of becoming a counsellor.  The search led me to signing up for the certificate course in counselling.  However, when applying for it, it was fully booked and I was placed on a list for the next upcoming course.  As life has its own plan, I received a call saying a 2nd class is starting and I joined the autumn class of 2015.  On completion of the course, unsure of how to continue, an email circulated about the scholarship and I applied without reservation.  Never in my wildest imagination would I have believed that Iwould become a finalist; let alone the winner.


Being a first year student, I felt apprehensive about balancing course work, family commitments and obligations.  Everything fell into place as the institution reassured us of their support and assistance which the core tutors concurred on meeting us, confirming their support for the duration of the course.  I find that the course demands my attention, and in reflection, opened up avenues of transforming perspectives; an altering of perception on choices and decisions made in the past.  As I learn about the theorists and their theories, and assimilate the information, I find my ‘set’ ways becoming ‘loose’.  A sensation of being unnerved is the best way to describe the process and its revealing a deeper realisation of human behaviour that continually evolves. 

I discovered that I’m confronted with my own limitations and conditioning.  I developed awareness over the last few years in Ireland and enrich me in ways that I may not have discovered if I never left Zimbabwe.  Being headstrong and set in my ways has caused me great adversary and sacrifices, however nothing can reward me more than the freedom to develop, emerging into a ‘fuller’ woman.  My only compass was the need for a better way of living, guiding me to a better way of ‘being’.  I needed to get out from those invisible chains that bonded me; internally as well as environmental.  Although the road ahead is unsure, feelings of joy have become part of my life.  I strive daily to gain balance as a woman, mother and student so that I can gain longer moments of joy as I work to achieve my ultimate goal.  That certainly does not mean that I will not encounter challenges ahead; it’s those challenges that have shaped me.  I am now more than ever aware of its purpose; to guide me towards refinement, and this is only the start of my degree course.  Although the work is of an emotional nature, I feel safe under the watchful eyes of PCI and my tutors.


I am looking forward to explore, grow, learn and transform as I continue my journey in becoming a counsellor and this is only possible through the Liam McCarthy Scholarship and I am grateful to PCI for their generosity.  Saying those words though, does not do justice to the blessings that has been bestowed on me.  Without the scholarship, people like me can only dream of a career in counselling, and a dream it would’ve remained if it was not for the scholarship.  In the words of Maya Angelou;


“I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

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