| 7.7°C Dublin

Inspirational Brave young Tipperary man determined to complete degree despite life-changing injury

Hero: success against all odds


Shaun Fogarty is paralysed from the neck down

Shaun Fogarty is paralysed from the neck down

Shaun Fogarty is paralysed from the neck down

This student is a first when it comes to university as he speaks of his determination to get back on campus after life-threatening injuries

As soon as Shaun Fogarty could talk again in the months after suffering a catastrophic neck injury, he voiced his determination to return to college.

As a young physics student, he was returning home from serving tables at a wedding on the night of the car accident which left two broken bones at the top of his spinal column in 2013.

It was one of two jobs he juggled while attending the University of Limerick and fitting training sessions in rugby and martial arts into his busy life.

His family, who feature alongside the Tipperary student in a new RTE series called My Uni Life, were initially told Shaun's injuries were incompatible with life as he lay in intensive care hooked up to machines.

His C1 injury meant he has had to learn to eat and drink and speak during his gruelling hospital and rehabilitation treatment which lasted more than three years.

Shaun, who is paralysed from the neck down, remembers when he first decided to continue his university education.

"As soon as I started speaking," he says simply this week on the phone from his family home in Cahir.

Arriving back at a lecture hall in his old college two years ago with a nurse and a carer, he had changed his science course to Mobile Communications and Security.

But he had the same objective as he had on first arriving on campus in 2012.

"The biggest thing is you wake up and say 'right I'm going to go and do this today and I'm not going to be by the wayside,'" he said.

"Anything that comes my way I am just going to overcome it because I have this specific goal in my mind."

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

In the compelling new RTE documentary, Brenda Shinners-Kennedy, Head of Disability Support Services at the University of Limerick, remembers Shaun being deadly serious about re-enrolling when they first met.

"We had very little experience with the level of injury that Shaun has so we were really starting from scratch.

"Shaun is an absolute first, there is nobody in this country with that level of injury who is in full-time education and hoping to go on a placement.

"It is an incredible thing, and it is absolutely driven by Shaun, nobody else."

The uplifting series, My Uni Life, follows seven students at various stages of their university journey who have all arrived at college against all the odds.

Each has overcome significant challenges from disabilities to socially disadvantaged backgrounds on their journey into university.

More than any grades, Shaun believes his biggest achievement in returning to campus is paving a path for other people with similar injuries.

"If somebody is saying 'well he's done it I can do it now', it will be an amazing feeling that I've inspired them to be able achieve their dreams."

  • My Uni Life will be shown on RTE One from this Friday November 6 at 7.30pm.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices