Nonso Muojeke, Kian Baniassadi and Sophia Shiel were "happy out" today.

At lunchtime the three Tullamore friends all got the best possible news; offers of college places on their top choice courses.

All three share a love of science and technology and that is reflected in the courses they have chosen.

Nonso is off to the University of Limerick to study Electronic and Computer Engineering, Kian is going to Galway and Biomedical Science and Sophia has secured a place at the University of Galway to study science.

"I'm so excited. I know a few people going up [to Galway] and I’m always happy to make new friends," Kian says.

"I’m just delighted to get started."

Nonso is over the moon too.

"I’ve always said 'hopefully’ I’m going to Limerick but now it’s a reality," he said.

"I don’t need to say ‘hopefully’ anymore. I went to the UL open day and the campus is so brilliant and so beautiful. I’m just ecstatic."

Sophia says she is really happy that "the stress is over" but she has chosen to defer her course for a year.

"I want to take the year out to make money and experience the world of work and I’m excited about that," she said.

Sophia is also keen to try to save some money to help get by when she does go on to college.

The bond of friendship between Sophie, Nonso and Kian was forged in challenging circumstances four years ago.

When Nonso and his mother and brother received a deportation order, Kian, Sophia, and their classmates in third year at Tullamore Community College launched a campaign to keep Nonso in Ireland.

They began with a local petition, but soon they were demonstrating outside the Dáil and attracting national and even international attention.

They won. The deportation order was lifted and Nonso's family was granted leave to remain.

"We've moved on since then, but at the time it was a big big deal," says Kian.

As they look forward to this new chapter in their lives, all three feel that the deep connection they share will survive anything.

Nonso sighs when asked about their friendship.

"Ohh... I love those guys so much," he said.

Kian added: "All three of us did chemistry and physics, and we were a triangle in class."

Like tens of thousands of other young people Nonso, Kian, and Sophia are on the cusp of a new adventure.

"Obviously it's really scary, leaving Tullamore and having to live by myself and cook for myself, but at the same time, being able to make new friends especially, it's really exciting," says Nonso.

Both he and Kian are fortunate to have secured on campus accommodation in Limerick and in Galway.

The hunt for accommodation and the struggle to meet the cost of it promises to be the biggest challenge facing thousands of students this year.

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