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UL graduate’s journey from night porter to quality and validation engineer

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University of Limerick has conferred degrees on more than 1,200 students this week as part of its latest graduation ceremonies. The University now boasts more than 125,000 alumni worldwide. Pictured is Diego Silva from Brazil. Picture: Arthur Ellis

New UL graduate Diego Silva says he carried with him a dream of continuing his professional career in a new country when he moved from Brazil to Ireland

REPRO FREE University of Limerick has conferred degrees on more than 1,200 students this week as part of its latest graduation ceremonies. The University now boasts more than 125,000 alumni worldwide.. Pic tured is Diego Silva from Brazil. Pic Arthur Ellis
Diego Silva from Brazil foundthe Professional Diploma in Data Analytics offered by UL online. Picture: Arthur Ellis

New University of Limerick graduate Diego Silva, who left his hometown in Brazil and arrived in Ireland in 2022, says he carried with him a dream of continuing his professional career in a new country.

Diego, who graduated this week from the Professional Diploma in Data Analytics along with 1,200 others during UL’s summer conferring ceremonies, has secured his “dream position” in Ireland after returning to education at UL, finding himself in high demand from recruiters as a result.

However, initially Diego’s reality in Ireland was far from his professional aspirations. He took a job as a night porter at a hotel in Shannon, a role that provided for his needs but not his ambitions. He had a background as a qualified production engineer with experience in lean manufacturing and quality control in Brazil.


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Determined to bridge the gap between his current job and his career ambitions, Diego explored upskilling opportunities. He discovered the online Professional Diploma in Data Analytics offered by UL, and despite his initial uncertainty about balancing studies with his work schedule, Diego was motivated by the potential this course had to transform his career.

“Ireland has always been great to me. It was a dream for a very long time to work in the profession I’m working in now, in a different country. A country with English as the primary language, where I could learn more and develop myself further.

“I came across this course, and though I wasn’t working professionally at the time, I reached out to the Course Director Professor Norma Bargary, for more information. In December 2022, I applied and got accepted, and I started the course in January 2023. It was really good news for me, as I didn’t think my application would be accepted. Studying at UL was a big dream for me.”

Understanding the demands of this UL@Work course, Diego made the decision to switch jobs. He moved from being a night porter to an operator at an electrical panel manufacturer. The move offered a more manageable schedule, allowing Diego to dedicate enough time and energy to his studies.

“The course was challenging but incredibly well-designed. We had online classes, and the assignments were opportunities to practice what we learned. The professors were always available to support us. I took it very seriously and learned so much.”

By the end of 2023, Diego had completed the course and was equipped with new skills and a qualification from UL.

“I stated on my LinkedIn profile that I was completing a course in data analytics at UL, and I was looking for work. So many recruiters reached out to me and offered me jobs. I could actually choose from the many options available.”

Diego eventually chose a role that he felt aligned with his career aspirations and accepted a position as an NPI Quality and Validation Engineer with Jabil in Waterford.

“This position was a dream come true. I really wanted to work on projects and validation, and now I’m doing exactly that.”

In his new role, Diego’s background in data analytics became invaluable.

“As an engineer, I think having the data analytics background is so valuable. We are all so data-driven nowadays, and you can actually do anything with these skills. You can pull so much insight out of data, and this is so useful in any role.”

In his new role, Diego leverages his data analytics skills to enhance his work processes.

“In my job, I now use data analytics to calculate different metrics around the validation that I’m doing. So, I calculate the Process Capability Index (CPK), calculate the International Normalised Ratio (INR), and I have also been doing some designs and some experiments around the work that I do. Taking the course really opened my eyes to the way I see data and how I interact with numbers and all the data around me. I can challenge the processes much more now with the information that I can take out of the data.”

Diego’s journey illustrates how upskilling through an online course can be a catalyst for career advancement.

“For me, it was a huge step in my education to have an international diploma. It allows me to return to the professional work I have been developing over the years. The opportunities I’ve been offered are priceless. It’s something that will impact the next few generations of my family.”

The 32-year-old credits the support and motivation from UL, especially from Course Director Professor Norma Bargary, a Professor of Data Science and Statistical Learning in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, for his success.

“Norma gave me even more motivation to get into the course. I felt so welcomed and even became the class representative, which helped us students stay connected and support each other.”

Diego encourages others to take the first step towards their educational and career goals. His story highlights the transformative power of education and the personal and professional opportunities that emerge when returning to learning.

“Look into the courses available and see what would be a good match for you. You need to look at the market and how to improve yourself to help your career. Studying online was a great decision for me. I believe in education as a means to progress in your career. I think everyone should take a chance and see what is available out there. UL has a lot to offer.”

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.