'I'm on cloud nine' - homeless mum's joy at offer of Trinity place
A homeless mother has realised her dreams after being accepted to study at the prestigious Trinity College.
Erica Fleming (30) has been homeless and living in emergency accommodation with her young daughter, Emily (9), for almost a year.
In a bid to fight her way out of poverty, Erica, who is a campaigner for the homeless, applied to Trinity College - an institution she felt was out of her reach financially.
And now she hopes attending Ireland's top college will inspire Emily to follow in her footsteps.
"I didn't dream I'd get accepted," Erica said. "I am over the moon, thrilled.
"My daughter Emily was recently there on a tour before I applied, so it's a big deal for her too. She is so proud of me. I kept saying to Emily 'You're going to college,' and she said we couldn't - that we wouldn't have the money.
"This has been a very tough year - I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be accepted in to such a prestigious college - but I have to say I don't think I'd even have applied if I hadn't been homeless.
"This adversity has pushed me on - to fight."
Erica impressed the college so much she was offered one of the 25 places on the free Trinity Access Programme.
She will be studying several modules including social studies, law, and ironically, political studies. The mum, who works part-time to support her daughter, has spent recent months lobbying Government on homelessness as the toll of those in emergency accommodation hits a record high.
But she insists she has no plans of entering the political arena for a career. Instead, Erica says she would like to become a social worker.
And after completing the access programme, she then plans to study for a degree at the college.
Erica credits Dublin councillor Gary Gannon with spurring her on to apply to the institution, after he gave her a pep talk that she was capable of studying there.
"I said to Gary, I couldn't afford to go to Trinity and he told me about this course and said 'Erica, you can go to Trinity. Look at all you've done without anyone holding your hand'."
The single mother, who appeared in the RTE documentary My Homeless Family, is a regular contributor to TV and radio shows on the housing crisis.
"Trinity College is famous across the world," Erica said.
"I still can't believe I'll be going there. I could change everything now. I can change our future.
"This is the happiest I've been in a long time and I know I'm inspiring my daughter after what we have been through - it makes it all the more unbelievable.
"I am literally on cloud nine, I can't believe it."