Grabbing that second chance to live a full life

Latisha McCrudden knows how to overcome whatever obstacles life throws in her way. And that’s just as well, because she’s had more than her share during her first 19 years.

But now she’s on the way to fulfilling her dream – taking full advantage of what she calls her second chance at life.

Latisha enrolled at University of Galway this year, where she’s studying law and taking a big step towards her lifelong dream of becoming a solicitor.

That happened nine years after her darkest day, when doctors found a tumour growing on the left side of her skull.

The teenager who grew up with her mum, Susan, and little sister, Tulisha, in County Roscommon and is now living in student accommodation in Corrib Village, turned out to have Fibrous Dysplasia, a disease that weakens and erodes a person’s bones.

But typical of her attitude, she described the diagnosis as the best possible news at the time – because the alternative would have been too difficult to even contemplate.

“I knew from then that my life could have changed in more ways than one and I must have had a purpose on this earth,” she recalls.

“Although I was only 10 at the time, I took that as my second chance at life and I was determined to try my hardest and grind and achieve my dreams.”

Latisha certainly has done that since then.  She’s achieved superb academic results, coupled with external pursuits as a Climate Ambassador; she’s won a Gaisce Award, taken part in the BT Young Scientist – and competed for Ireland in her sporting passion, karate.

Latisha is also from a Travelling background, something she’s very proud of.

“Currently, I am involved in many organisations and groups, including the Irish Traveller Movement Youth Forum, Minceirs Whiden Youth Forum, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the National Youth Assembly of Ireland, Spun-Out – and a project which is looking at the impact of Covid-19 on children across the country,” she explains.

“This will be national information that will be used by other European countries for future reference from early next year,” she says of the  Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) project.

While Latisha’s university place – and the offer of a job on graduation – means she has taken a giant step on her path to becoming a solicitor, she won’t be stopping there.

“I am grateful that once I have my degree completed, I have been guaranteed a job in a thriving and amazing solicitor’s office,” she says.

“My degree is going to take the next few years – but I also have my eyes set firmly on the 2028 election, when I will run for a seat in the Dáil.

“It is another dream that has come around in the last few years and I will try my hardest to earn a seat. I spoke in the Oireachtas last October, which was a brilliant experience and was a visionary day of what my future could hold.

“I have spoken on panels, including at an event in April in Dublin on racism – especially racism projected upon the Traveller community I am from – and I spoke in July in Athlone at a Traveller Pride event,” she continues.

“I also worked in a TD’s office during the summer to gain valuable education and experience that I would require for the future,” she adds.

Pictured: Latisha with her mum Susan McCrudden after this high-achieving young woman spoke in the Oireachtas last year.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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