Ultan Kelm is a construction student at South West College. His is also one of the rising stars of the Fermanagh GAA. Earlier this year the Irish News included him in their Team of the Week, and described how “the 19-year-old has had a hugely impressive introduction to inter-county football and was outstanding again in the Erne defence”. Way out West caught up with him to hear about his journey at South West College, and the art of balancing construction ambitions with county football ambitions.
What was your educational journey before South West College?
I completed my GCSE’s at St Marys High School Brollagh and went to St Michaels College, but after one year I decided that A-Level’s really weren’t for me. I preferred the idea of for practical, hands on studying at South West College, and particularly the idea of working with lecturers who had real industry experience. I knew that the more flexible timetable of college would suit me because it would give me more time to work towards my sporting ambitions.
What have you enjoyed about studying at SWC?
There’s such a big interest in construction here at the college, and the course covers a lot of areas and allows you to get a real feel for the industry. You’re getting taught by people who have real experience in the industry and you’re seeing directly how what you’re taught in the classroom can be taken out and used in the workplace.
How would you recommend South West College to someone?
I think the first thing I’d mention would be the fantastic resources and facilities. Then there's the way the curriculum is so broad and covers so much about construction. I studied construction at school, but not in this depth or across this many areas.
How has SWC helped you balance your studies with football?
Being closer to home meant that I could remain fully committed to my training without having to do a lot of travelling. There workload is different too. Studying at South West College means i'm working constantly throughout the year, rather than everything building up towards exams at the end of the year. So as long as I found the balance which allowed me to stay on top of my work, I could stay constantly committed to football too. Flexibility with the timetable also means I can do individual gym sessions during the day, which is really important to me.
What are you ambitions for the future?
I hope to go to Ulster University next year to study Architectural Engineering and in the long run I hope to pursue a career in that area. Of course my other huge ambition is to cement my place in the Fermanagh team, win a senior championship with the Erne Gaels, and win Ulster with Fermanagh. The great things about my time at South West College is that I’ve been able to focus on all these ambitions at once!