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Tiago Pereira graduates from Ulster University this summer with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing.

Tiago’s university journey goes beyond success; it’s a testament to hard work and self-determination. Having moved from Portugal to Portadown as a child, Tiago gained significant attention by starring in the 2006 BBC documentary "Tiago and the Tunnel" depicting his life as a young Portuguese immigrant in Portadown. He fondly recalls the incredible community that welcomed him, saying "they helped raise me when they didn’t have to." 

This experience has inspired him to give back to his local community and serve as a role model for others in similar situations. Tiago commented:

“I set up a football group with around 30 members of all ages, ethnicities and abilities who come together to play 5-a-side and have been working with the council to provide opportunities for some of the younger members to gain additional qualifications, such as coaching qualifications and first aid training.”

Tiago’s parents were keen that he attend University but after a two-year break from education post A-Level’s, his family worried he might never return to it. However, at 24, driven by ambition and a desire for self-improvement, Tiago applied to Study Marketing at Ulster University.

His decision to attend Ulster University was heavily influenced by the positive experiences of friends who had also attended and is one he has never regretted.

Community has played an important part in both Tiago’s personal and academic life, as he explains:

“Community is everything to me, whether it is my local community at home in Portadown or the Community at Ulster University – there is something special about people coming together for a combined cause. It was my honour to be appointed class representative in my final year. As class representative it was my job to gather feedback from students on our course but Ulster University has a very strong sense of community and my Course Director created an extremely positive environment, so there were no complaints – which made my job very easy.”

Reflecting on his time at Ulster, Tiago said:

"While I’ve enjoyed many aspects of Ulster University, my best experience has been with the people. I was lucky to have a strong network of peers who supported one another, great staff who mentored me, helpful instructors and other campus members who supported and encouraged me, enabling me to make meaningful connections."

Tiago balanced two jobs alongside his studies. Applying to both Ulster University and to become a retained firefighter, he was accepted to both. Determined to seize every opportunity, he juggled his studies, firefighter training, and part-time work. Balancing these responsibilities, along with maintaining time for family, friends, and fitness, was challenging. Nevertheless, Tiago looks back on these obstacles with pride, knowing each was worthwhile.

Despite his busy schedule, Tiago has recently started a new job with a local business and views this as a chance to apply and develop the skills he learned at university whilst still working as a retained firefighter. His ambitions extend beyond his professional life; with a bucket list full of travel goals, he hopes to achieve.

“I love what I do but I would love to travel and see the world, in the meantime I look forward to using the skills and experiences I have gained at Ulster to further support and enrich my local community.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the course Tiago is graduating from please visit Marketing BSc (Hons) at Ulster University 2024/25 entry - Part-time Undergraduate Study in Belfast