Local Faces - Amy Keatinge

AS PART of The Echo’s 40 birthday celebrations, we’re celebrating you, and local faces and places. Over the following weeks we’ll share the stories of local people, and remind ourselves of the great community spirit alive across local areas. This week Mary Dennehy talks to Amy Keatinge, Deputy Student Union President of TU Dublin - Tallaght Campus.

WHEN you meet Amy Keatinge for the first time it’s hard not to be impressed by the 24-year-old’s inherent sense of community and passion for providing access to education for all.

Growing up in Jobstown, Amy has fostered strong ties to her community, a connection passed down by her mam and dad.

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Amy Keatinge (Photos by Aidan O’Neill)

Amy’s mam Jennie, who grew up in Jobstown herself, passed away when Amy was just 13.

“Mam was really big into community, given she grew up in Jobstown too”, Amy said.

“My dad is from Crumlin, and both of them were very community forcused when myself and my brother were growing up.

“Me and Jack get it now, we understand the importance of community.”

Amy started her education in St Thomas’s national school in Jobstown before heading to Loreto College Crumlin, where she was Head Girl in sixth year – and got her first taste of student representation.

After finishing school, Amy embarked on a Marketing Management degree at IT Tallaght, and was the Student Union President during the college’s transition into a Technological University.

She is now the Deputy Student Union President of TU Dublin – Tallaght Campus, with two years of representing the college’s student body changing her direction in life.

“I guess over the last few years I’ve seen the ability and power that students have to make change”, Amy told The Echo during a phone interview.

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Amy Keatinge

“In my first few weeks as SU President I saw all of the barriers to education that people face and this is where my political lobbying started to kick in.

“I started to realise the role politicians play in [education], so I started contacting local and national politicians, lobbying for equal access to education.

“Students face barriers in accessing college and they face barriers when they get to college too.

“I know students who had to drop out because they couldn’t afford it.

“There’s mature students living at home and they’re getting means tested [for grants] based on their parents income, even thought their parents don’t give them money.

“I’m honoured to come from a college that supports students to the best of its ability but I feel the Government could invest more into additional supports.”

She added: “If I hadn’t got involved in the student union I’d be in a marketing firm now, that’s what I wanted.

“I’ve changed direction now, I’d love to work with young people and entrepreneurship.

“Focus on youth develop and giving young people a better future.”

Amy is no stranger to the benefits of youth entrepreneurship, after she was crowned  Ireland’s Young European Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013 – the first time the accolade was brought home to Ireland.

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Amy Keatinge

Amy, whose win was covered in The Echo at the time, came up with a mini-company called Cozey Soundz, an ear phone pillow.

That wasn’t the first time Amy was in The Echo, and she told us how during a recent clean-out she found lots of old Echo articles featuring herself or a family member.

“I love that we have The Echo”, Amy said.

“I always remember if you knew you were in The Echo, you’d be rushing down to the shops with your parents to get a copy.

“I feel like The Echo was with me all the way, right until I got to college.

“The Echo is a big part in my family’s life and we’re supportive of The Echo as it has also supported us and our local community.”

As The Echo embarks on a push for readers to subscribe online, especially in light of the current Covid-19 crisis, Amy is starting her own campaign to support us – and will be encouraging students in TU Dublin – Tallaght campus to subscribe.

Amy is based in the Student Union hub on the Tallaght campus, where she works alongside fellow SU officers Megan O’Neill and Lee Bennett – who she says the student union “would not function without”.

Stepping into the bright space that is the SU hub, you immediately feel at home – probably aided by Amy’s approachable and friendly demeanour.

It’s clear from the start that Amy has students at the heart of what she does, both prospective and current. Her lobbying to not only support the students of today but the students of tomorrow is admirable and is a message that needs to be heard.

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