A Derry father of five returned to education when his family construction business went bankrupt, has described it as a ‘life changing’ experience.
Gregory McCormick, from Tamnaherin, graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons.) Degree in Real Estate from the Ulster University last week.
The Derry man trained as a joiner after leaving school and worked in the family construction business. He later started a home building company - McCormick Estates based in Co. Donegal - and built high quality houses across the island of Ireland.
When the recession hit in 2010, Gregory’s business went bankrupt and he lost everything including the family home. His lack of formal qualifications was a real barrier to finding another job.
“All I knew was the property game, but I was unemployable without any formal qualifications, notwithstanding the wealth of experience I possessed. Despite initially training as a joiner I had no recent experience so that option wasn’t open to me either. I can’t tell you how dark the days were. “We were on the breadline and I had to keep a roof over my family’s head. I opened a small car wash business for a couple of years to get money coming into the house. This was a quick fix, however, not a long-term solution so I knew I had to return to education.”
Gregory found out about the access course in North West Regional College which is run in conjunction with the Ulster University.
He completed this and was accepted onto the degree course at Ulster University which he said was ‘life-changing’.
“It gave me a new lease of life when I got accepted onto the degree programme. It was a very tough time and as a family we had to make a lot of sacrifices, however, the support I received from my lecturers was unbelievable. They were always there to help.”
While completing his degree Gregoryand his wife welcomed a fifth child - a much longed for daughter after four boys.
With lots of opportunities available to him Gregory is taking some time out before he takes the next step in his career. His dream is to once again open a family business with his son, who has followed in his father’s footsteps and is currently studying for a degree in construction.
“Completing my degree has given me a serious confidence boost. I feel a real sense of achievement and no one can take this away from me! My time at Ulster University has helped me to believe in myself and again and I know now that anything is possible!”