Ahmed Ashfaq – BEng (Chemical Engineering)

Ahmed wears his graduation cap and gown

Ahmed Ashfaq is graduating from his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and will be continuing on at UCD to study for his masters degree. As an Access Leader, Ahmed has been a role model to students entering UCD from diverse backgrounds.


Right now Ahmed is undergoing an internship in Chemical Engineering with MSD, where he has been supported and encouraged by fellow UCD alumni.


While he will be returning to Belfield to study for his masters, Ahmed is starting this new chapter of his life in a different place than when he started his undergraduate degree in 2019. 


“It’s definitely made me more confident!”


Growing up in Ballaghaderreen, the youngest in his family, Ahmed was weighing up a lot of interests and options to inform his CAO choices. He was torn between studying science, engineering and business.


Aeronautical engineering first interested him because he had initially dreamed of being a pilot. Unfortunately, the cost of training as a pilot was out of reach for his family. He then leaned towards business, but he credits his brother for convincing him to study engineering in the end. 


Moving up to UCD with a few friends around him made all the difference in his transition to living and studying in Dublin, but he still lacked some confidence.


“I’ll be honest, in the beginning I was a very shy person coming in and I kept to myself.”


He quickly got stuck into life at UCD and when things got difficult, he found essential support along the way from the Access and Lifelong Learning team. They were able to support him financially, and helped him connect with the Islamic Society. It may seem like an innocuous thing, but simply finding suitable places to eat on campus and to have a place to pray made a huge difference. 


Slowly, UCD started to feel like home. And then things changed again!


“I was in second year when Covid started, but the following year was the hardest. I think everyone contemplated leaving during that year, just to take a year out.”


Despite all of these challenges, Ahmed managed to see it through. He applied himself, joined working groups, and got organised. He put in a hard graft…and he made it! 


As an Access Leader, Ahmed was able to be a role model to others over the years and to share what he learned along the way. He has offered advice and mentoring to many incoming students. He also had the opportunity to connect with an alumnus from his small town, who happened to have completed the same course that he was studying.


Ahmed believes new students should get in touch with the services designed to support them through their college experience.


“Use the resources available to you…go to the programme office, the Access centre, or the SU. They genuinely care.”


Having previously used the UCD Accommodation Pad to find digs, he encourages incoming and continuing students to use the trusted platform which is run by UCD.


“I got lucky. I found something fifteen minutes from UCD.”