My name is Mei Lin Yap. I have represented my country in swimming. I am told I am a good friend. I know I am a foodie. I love all types of music, especially Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Will.I.Am. I also happen to have Down Syndrome.
In 2008, through the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities in the School of Education, I became a student of Trinity College Dublin. I couldn’t believe that I was going to be a student at one of the most prestigious universities in Ireland. My sister graduated from Trinity College and it was great to follow in her footsteps. It was a big deal to be a university student and to attend Trinity College was one of my proudest boasts.
Studying in Trinity gave me an opportunity to become involved in University life and I became involved in several societies. That was a great experience, but at first I was a bit isolated. It took a while for me to break down barriers and to become accepted. Having the opportunity to be a university student, and to be exposed to the normal experiences of college life, really did help shape me and build my confidence. My graduation from Trinity was the highlight of my life.
The Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities gave me an opportunity to be the MC of their relaunch in May, 2015. This is where I first met Mary Carroll , the Director of Learning and Development in Cpl. Mary suggested that we meet up again and chat about my capabilities and what kind of help Cpl could provide for me.
Early in 2015 I finished working in Espion Ltd. after just over two years. I was very lucky that the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities relaunch was happening around this time. I stayed in contact with Cpl during 2015 during which I needed help with updating and developing my CV. The help that I received from Mary was invaluable as I had some struggles getting back to employment.
On Monday 24 October 2016 the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities and the School of Education launched their Business Partners programme, promoting inclusion and diversity in the workplace. The launch event was hosted by Bank of Ireland at a special breakfast briefing in the House of Lords with a number of companies in attendance.
I was invited to speak at the breakfast briefing about my experience in Trinity and about my employment experience since graduation. I was lucky enough to meet with Cpl’s CEO Anne Heraty and her Cpl colleagues at this event.
Cpl is now an official business partner of the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Cpl invited me to be one of the first graduates to have a placement with them. I am delighted and excited at this opportunity and so proud to be part of their workforce. This is an exciting time for me and I have been made most welcome and feel very included in the workplace.
I must acknowledge the wonderful support of the School of Education in TCD and in particular the support and encouragement were given to me by Carmel O’Sullivan, John Kubiak, and Marie Devitt. It is these people who 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 accepted and included and a fully-fledged adult who can contribute to society.