Scholar Spotlight - Rachel Clinton

TCD Pathways for Women in Business Laidlaw Scholar Rachel Clinton on enduring hardship and embracing differences.
Scholar Spotlight - Rachel Clinton
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Rachel Clinton, a Laidlaw Scholar from the Pathways for Women in Business Programme at Trinity College Dublin, on enduring hardship and embracing differences. 

I come from a working-class area in Dublin called Tallaght. I am very proud to be from Tallaght because I see myself and Tallaght as being very alike. 

I have been through many difficult and personally challenging times. I've been to many dark places. In these times, I was written off as a person that wouldn't amount to much, very similar to the way that  Tallaght as an area was written off in the 80s and 90s as a place of little culture or prospects, an area that was an afterthought to the thousands of houses that were built with hardly any community amenities included in the plans, which had a negative effect on the area and its people. 

But like Tallaght, I've pushed forward despite the hardship. Like Tallaght, I have grown into myself and blossomed despite all the hardships. And like the community of Tallaght, I carved a positive pathway for myself through hard work, self-belief, and grit. 

Applying for the Pathways for Women in Business Scholarship felt like a natural progression on this path that I have carved for myself as the ethos of Laidlaw Foundation appealed to my core beliefs, one of which is that we all have the potential to do good things, so why not do them?

What is the biggest life challenge you overcame, and what did you learn from it?

I am a person with several learning differences, including dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, but I wasn't given a formal diagnosis until my late 30s. 

These learning differences caused me to be othered in school and written off as a person of low academic potential. It also carried on into the working environment in several situations. The biggest challenge for me was to hold on to my self-belief and self-worth while dealing with these negative attitudes towards me. 

I overcame these challenges by turning the negativity directed at me into fuel to drive my ambition and to educate myself. I have turned that drive into a reality. 

I have learned that I can achieve almost anything if I put my mind to it. I have learned that it is your frame of mind that gets you to where you need to be.

Which Laidlaw values resonate with you the most and why?

I see and feel myself to be brave, curious and determined. I strive to be good. I've been told I'm extraordinary, although I don't see that. I'm just me! 

I have had to be brave as I have had a lot of negativity to push through in my life. I am curious to a fault sometimes, I've been told I'm a little too curious for my own good, but I don't see that either…  I am determined to enjoy and learn from life. Sure, why not?

This picture is of me in Trinity College
receiving my Certificate of Award for the Laidlaw Scholarship

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Never take no for an answer.

Sometimes good enough is good enough! (this is advice that was given to me by my 10-year-old daughter).

What is the worst piece of advice you have been given?

Just go with the flow...

Which leaders in the world inspire you the most and why?

I don't tend to follow or be inspired by obvious leaders. I am inspired by people who strive to do the right thing despite it not being the easy option. I am inspired by kind, warm, genuine and gratuitous people who may not always be the obvious leaders, but I'll walk with them all day, every day.

I am quite fond of the Irish President at the moment, Michael D Higgins.

What do you think needs to happen to shatter the glass ceiling for women once and for all?

I believe that men and women are, by basic definition, different. I feel that our differences should be embraced as our differences are our strengths. When our different strengths as women are truly celebrated and not seen as a threat or a weakness, then I think it will be easy to shatter the glass ceiling.

Briefly describe a scene from the future you are striving to create.

A future where everyone has a good basic standard of living with the opportunity to grow and achieve personal goals, while neither of these costs the earth. Everyone is striving to give more than they have taken before they depart this world. There is an overall sense of positivity and support between communities.

Quick-Fire Questions

📺 Currently binging: The Last of Us

🎵 My current anthem: Anti Hero by Taylor Swift

📚 My top book recommendation: The Fairy Stories by Oscar Wilde

🎧 Podcast obsession: The Blindboy Podcast

🌈 Something that made me feel joy recently: Jumping off a pier into the sea at near-freezing temperatures on the beautiful coast of Ireland. What a buzz!

Rachel is a recipient of the Laidlaw Pathways for Women in Business Scholarship at Trinity College Dublin. This scholarship programme intends to help talented women from underrepresented groups in higher education, supporting them in their studies and progressing to successful careers in business. Learn more here.

🔦 Discover more Scholar Spotlights

⚡️ Asha Scaria Vettoor on running a successful social enterprise and empowering rural women artisans.

⚡️ Xuerui Yin on overcoming societal norms, creating opportunities for underrepresented groups, and working with compassion.

⚡️ Paseka Khosa on overcoming financial hardship and advocating for unwavering belief in oneself.

⚡️ Fisayo Adeleke on her mission to increase women's access to opportunities, and dealing with uncertainty.

⚡️ Helena Couto on breaking out of your pre-defined place in society, and larger than life goals.

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