Cork man who learned to read in prison aged 32 graduates from college with honours degree
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Cork man who learned to read in prison aged 32 graduates from college with honours degree

A CORK man has become the first in his family to graduate from college after overcoming tremendous obstacles.

Timmy Long, from Churchfield in Cork, graduated from the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) earlier this month after spending eight years pursuing his education later in life than most.

The proud graduate now holds an honours degree in construction management, and while he admits it was tough not having his family be able to attend the graduation ceremony, his success is "a massive deal" as it teaches his children that a good education is attainable.

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Mr Long spoke to The Irish Examiner where he explained how he left school at an early age, falling into a life of addiction and crime before getting his life back on track while in prison.

The Cork man, who now co-hosts podcast The Two Norries, was 32 years old when he first began to learn the alphabet and the months of the year while serving a prison sentence, saying he was unable to learn while at school because "there was too much stuff going on at home" and his dyslexia went un-diagnosed, leading him to be labelled as a difficult and disruptive child.

While in prison, Mr Long completed Fetac Level 3 and 4 courses, as well as the Leaving Certificate and multiple personal development courses.

He then went on to attend St John's Central College in Cork, where he attained a Fetac Level 5 and Level 6 course, before deciding to give "third-level education a go".

"I started in CIT in a course called craft technology with business, which was a carpentry and joinery course," he told The Irish Examiner.

“I did two years of that course in CIT and I was able to bridge over then into the honours degree in construction management at Level 8.”

It was during this time that Mr Long was diagnosed with dyslexia, something which helped him realise that, in his words, "there's nothing wrong with me, I'm not stupid, I have a disability which is dyslexia".

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Proudly stating that his work ethic was "second to none", after long days and nights of hard study Mr Long graduated from CIT in early November with an online ceremony.

"I was a little bit gutted it was online," he told the outlet, adding "I wanted my kids to be sitting in the front row watching their dad. I am the first in my family to go to college, none of my family or I finished school. I’m the first one to actually go to college and get a degree.

“So it's a massive deal for me on a personal level to show my kids and teach them that college is the next step in life if they want to go down that road.”

Speaking on the evening of his graduation, Mr Long took to Twitter where he said that while he may be the first in his family to graduate from college, he is "most definitely not the last".

You can follow updates from Mr Long on his Twitter page (here), or keep up to date with the popular The Two Norries podcast which deals with social issues in Cork here.

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