A student who struggled in mainstream education and found out her mother was a child rape survivor celebrated a 100% distinction mark on Friday in her Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) exams ).
Jesslyn Campion (17) from Limerick, was beaming with joy after receiving top marks in all areas after completing her secondary education through the Limerick Youth Service (LYS).
Ms Campion, who is pursuing a career in animation, said she hopes her story will give hope to others who find themselves unsuited to mainstream education that they don’t have to sacrifice college projects or professionals.
“There are options, and the majority of students don’t even realize there are other routes (to education), there’s Youthreach, youth services and even the ACL [Leaving Cert Applied]that I didn’t know when I was in high school,” Ms. Campion said.
“I feel so happy, and this morning I was so excited to not just see my results, but to see all my classmates and how they did, and they all did really well too.”
“About two years ago when I started in youth service my confidence was low and I didn’t even think I would get to where I am today or even finish the ACL but all the staff and the teachers gave us so much confidence and really encouraged us.
“I’m going to start at LCFE (Limerick College of Further Education) taking a course in Animation and Game Design, which I’ve been passionate about for a few years.”
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Jesslyn’s mother, Leona O’Callaghan, who is a well-known advocate for the rights of victims of sex crimes and a survivor of child rape, said she was extremely “proud” of her daughter.
The mother and daughter supported each other through adversity, including when Ms O’Callaghan waived her right to anonymity in 2018 after a man raped her 13-year-old Patrick ‘Whacker “O’Dea of Pike Avenue, Limerick, was imprisoned for 17 years.
“Jess was in an amazing school but she felt she didn’t fit in and she just stopped functioning, she felt she couldn’t keep up with the pressure of regular school and it was a really low time for her,” Ms O. ‘Callaghan explained.
“I encouraged her to consider other options and she joined the Limerick Youth Center. They were amazing and gave her confidence.”
“She’s incredibly smart, but she’s had a very difficult time over the past few years with the very public trial involving her mother, which obviously would have taken a toll on her.”
“I’m so proud of her that she’s been so resilient to stick through it all, to be so strong and determined, she’s phenomenal and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”