Former homeless woman defies the odds to now lecture at Trinity

At age fifteen Katriona O’Sullivan was pregnant and living without proper shelter, today she is a Trinity College lecturer in psychology and her son just signed a contract to play football for fourth-tier Carlisle United.

Despite her young pregnancy and the struggle and isolation that came with it, the Blanchardstown woman passed on her ‘anything is possible’ attitude to her son John O’Sullivan at an early age.

Once revealing her pregnancy to her family, Katriona found herself homeless. She moved to England with her partner at the time and gave birth to her son in Birmingham.

“I was suddenly pregnant, homeless and squatting with my boyfriend,” said Katriona, speaking to the Irish Independent, “Because I was still a child, I was placed in a hostel for young mothers when I was about five months pregnant,” she continued.

Katriona’s relationship with her son’s father fell apart when John was only two years old. After this, she moved back to Summerhill in Dublin to mend bridges with her family.

Although a bright student, falling pregnant at a young resulted in Katriona leaving school. Her return to education was initiated when she bumped into another single mother one day.

“She told me she was studying law at Trinity on the Trinity Access Programme (TAP). She had the same background as me, very disadvantaged,” said Katriona.

“I didn’t believe her. I asked where did she get into Trinity and that minute I marched straight over to the access programme and said ‘what do I have to do to get in here?’.

“People don’t realise young women who’ve been through hard times have learned to fight.”

Juggling single motherhood and academia Katriona went on to study psychology at Trinity and when she could she’d often play football with her son John. Her hard work and determination led her to achieve a first class honours in her degree.

She then went on to win a scholarship to continue her studies by doing a PhD in psychology at the prestigious college. On completion of her PhD she was invited to become a psychology lecturer at Trinity on the TAP course.

“Her lecturers were thought provoking and she was obviously very passionate about the topic of addiction. She emphasised the importance of critical thinking and the real-world application of understanding the neurobiology of addiction”, said Celine Fox a past student of Katriona’s.

Amy Lawlor