• Bernice Cooke

Leaving Cert the beginning and the end

Updated: Apr 26, 2019

I remember sitting my leaving cert as if it was yesterday not 22 years ago. To me, it signified the end of my schooling and the beginning of a life I chose to live.

As I remind my 18- year- old daughter who is sitting her exams this year is "you can be whatever you want to be its not final, follow your dreams".

My dreams were horses and art, I didn't know how I would begin or where I would end up.

I applied to art colleges, I prepared my portfolio and I sat my exams, but in the background, I had a burning desire to work with horses. The advice I got was I must be mad as I don't come from an Equine background, I couldn't ride and I didn't even own a pony, so why would I bother.

But it was a dream, and one I wanted badly to fulfil.

I was offered a place in Art college but I was afraid. Fear of not liking the course and the costs involved with attending a college, plus in my mind I didn't think I was ready to get stuck into studying all over again.

I wanted to experience some life, get a job, move out, pay rent, buy food, travel and socialize.

So at 18 I opted to work instead, I was blessed to find a job in a big factory, I did move out and I did experience all of the above, but I still had a desire to work with horses.

An opportunity came knocking 8 months into my full time job, I applied for a PLC course in Business and Stud Management, my lack of experience did not hold me back, years later my course manager stated that it was my passion and enthusiasm that got me on that course.

Here I am living the dream

I worked hard, completed the course and managed to get a full - time job in the thoroughbred industry. But nothing in life goes smoothly and I became a young mother and as all parents know kids will always come first. It was time to pack up and move home and begin again. I did, but I still wanted to do more study in the line of Equine, so whilst holding down a full-time job and being a mother I went back to college in the evening and graduated with honors in Equine Science.

Returning to college was not easy, lack of sleep, meeting deadlines with projects, studying, learning to drive and saving for a car so I could become more independent.

It greatly improved my job prospects as part of the course was business and computing, basically how to run your own business in the Equine industry but I could apply it to any industry.

So how did all this lead back to the creation of Canvas to Candle?

Well simply put, my creativity and artist's spark had never died, having married and extended my small family it was time to take a look at where I was going, what I wanted to do next.

So back to school I went, I signed up for art lessons and an aromatherapy course and in the back of my mind a business idea began to formulate, and the rest as they say is history.

The bottom line is no matter what happens in life, do not give up on your dreams no matter how big or small they seem, when you put your mind to it, work hard, be positive, wish others well you can achieve anything, no matter what experience you may have.

Remember the Leaving Cert is just the end of your young school life and the beginning of the rest of your life.

If you would like to follow my journey, hop on over to:

P.S. Horses were still part of my wedding :)

My Wedding Day

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Killadulisk, Killimor, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway