Just ahead of International Women's Day, three women at North West Regional College in Northern Ireland have earned QUEST Technician scholarships to pursue their studies in civil engineering.
All three of the women are earning Foundation Degrees in Civil Engineering. Two are mature students and single mothers, having returned to school after having their families and careers in other industries.
Sinead Mullan from Dungiven began her course at the age of 34, having had an interest in engineering since childhood.
"As a single parent of two sons, I have worked very hard in jobs which allowed me to put food on the table and which were a necessity rather than a profession of choice," she said.
"However, while satisfying on a personal level, my previous jobs did not challenge me intellectually. Engineers make a difference – this is what fascinates me."
Glynis Gallagher from Derry-Londonderry returned to education at the age of 41. Inspired by the construction of the Peace Bridge and development of Ebrington Square in her home city, Gallagher decided that she wanted to be part of something so rewarding.
"Not only was the Bridge good for infrastructure, but also for the social structure as it integrated people from both sides of the city and contributed economically," she said.
"I have always worked hard as a provider, but I have always felt that I have never reached my full potential," she said. "I feel like I will accomplish this on my course and as a civil engineer."
The third scholar, Chanelle McCook of Coleraine, says she "fell in love" with civil engineering after doing work experience for her uncle, who is a structural engineer. McCook decided to leave her grammar school to enrol at North West Regional College, which has a reputable construction and engineering programme.
"There were many challenges, particularly as the only female student in my class," McCook said. "Yet through these experiences, I have realised that an ability to handle change and a determination to succeed are fundamentally the core values which will stabilise my pathway to structural engineering."
She added: "I believe strongly in equality and that I can, as a woman, make a positive contribution to a career which I love and respect."
Richard Kirk, Regional Director of ICE NI, was delighted with the students' success.
"It is incredibly exciting to have such motivated, capable and passionate women entering our field," he said. "Northern Ireland needs more female civil engineers, and we are thrilled to be able to financially support these women's paths to qualification."
"It's especially fitting that the timing was just before International Women's Day. ICE is committed to promoting women's achievements in civil engineering, and these women from Northern Ireland have given us plenty to celebrate."