“The best days of your life” is what I had been told going to college would be like. But in the summer of 2002, as second year in UCD loomed, I wondered how true this really was. I had joined societies but had been too shy to get involved. Most of my spare time in first year was spent hanging out in Trinity with school friends. In August, I started a part-time job in RTÉ. One night I got chatting to another ‘runner’ as we were called, Samantha Liberi (today a journalist with RTÉ). I recognised her surname from reading The University Observer. She encouraged me to get involved. I had no idea how much that conversation would change my life.
“Quinn school opens for business” was the headline on my first story. Soon I found myself writing more news and features. Fast-forward to September 2003, Padraic Halpin and I were appointed editors of O2. Padraic (now Reuters’ Chief Correspondent in Ireland) decided we should give rising stars Franz Ferdinand their first ever cover article. Among the UO’s Student Media Awards haul that year was Travel Writer of the Year. That went to the now Minister Eoghan Murphy. Myself and Nathalie Márquez Courtney were the UO editor team for 2005/06, with designer Simon Larragy. It tickles me to see Mystic Mittens, which we introduced, is still going strong.
Trawling through those editions, there’s a rugby interview with a second year economics student named Rob Kearney and a student athlete called Derval O’Rourke. I signed up Bressie to write a band diary about The Blizzards. They signed a record deal that year. We revealed that all students would get semesterisation and plans for a swimming pool and a new student centre. NCAD students staged arty protests against a proposal to relocate to Belfield. There was anger over the closure of the Sports Bar, one of three pubs on campus.
UCD’s Campus Television Network was launched, the Freshers’ Ball was held on campus for the first time and there was also the first UCD Ball headlined by BellX1. The Quinn School’s QSoc emerged as UCD’s biggest society.
I left UCD with an extra degree, journalism. I went into the newspaper industry and, later, communications. Many of the skills I use today are ones I honed in the old Student Centre. Joining the UO transformed my experience of college life. I would urge anyone who wants more from Belfield than lectures and the library to get involved. It’s never too late. If I hadn’t, my life now would be different. Most of my close friends today I met through the UO. I would never have met my husband Eoghan, a former rival from the College Tribune. My UCD days really were the best of my life, and led to many more.