Gregory enjoys triumph in the face of adversity
A man who returned to education when the family construction business he spearheaded went bankrupt has graduated from university.
Gregory McCormick, a father of five, has secured a BSc honours degree in real estate from Ulster University.
Mr McCormick left school to train as a joiner and went to work in the family construction business. He later started a home building company and worked across Ireland building high-quality houses.
When the recession hit in 2010, his business, McCormick Estates in Co Donegal, went bankrupt. He lost everything including the family home and was unable to get another job.
Mr McCormick said his lack of formal qualifications was a real barrier to finding another job.
"All I knew was the property game but I was unemployable without any formal qualifications, notwithstanding the wealth of experience I possessed," he said. "Despite initially training as a joiner I had no recent experience so that option wasn't open to me either.
"I can't tell you how dark the days were. We were on the breadline and I had to keep a roof over my family's head. I opened a small car wash business for a couple of years. This was a quick fix, however, not a long-term solution so I knew I had to return to education."
Mr McCormick heard about the access course in North West Regional College which is run in conjunction with Ulster University, with one year of intense study providing a route into further education.
He completed this and was accepted on to the degree course at Ulster University, which he said was life-changing.
"It gave me a new lease of life when I got accepted on to the degree programme," he added.
"It was a very tough time and as a family we had to make a lot of sacrifices. However, the support I received from my lecturers was unbelievable. They were always there to help."
With opportunities opening up, Mr McCormick is taking some time out before he takes the next step in his career.
His dream is to once again open a family business with his son who has followed in his father's footsteps and is currently studying for a degree in construction.
"Completing my degree has given me a serious confidence boost. I feel a real sense of achievement," he added.