By Jack Walsh | Jan 31 2012Refreshers’ Day a success UCD held its annual Refreshers’ Day event on February 24th. Ninety-five clubs and societies were represented at the event, which is a continuation of Freshers’ Week, held in Semester One, and is facilitated for the entire student body.Chairman of the Societies Council, Stephen Whelan stated that “the event was well promoted, and in my opinion was the most successful Refreshers' Day we have run here on campus. A number of societies are also actively engaged in this year’s Community Week at the minute, which no doubt helped us promote Refreshers' Day to as wide an audience as possible.”Whelan went on to highlight the event’s importance in UCD’s social calendar, “Societies and clubs are a vital part of the university experience, not to mention personal development. Refreshers' Day provides our students from overseas, who are just starting in UCD, with an opportunity to experience firsthand the wide and diverse range of societies and clubs available to them during their time in Belfield. It is also a great chance for people who may have missed out in the first semester to try something new.”Students who could not attend are reminded that they can join clubs and societies at any stage of the semester. Health Promotions Committee cooking competitionThe Health Promotions Committee (HPC) in conjunction with UCD Students’ Union and Student Advisors have launched the annual student cooking competition. The competition, which has been run for various years by the HPC, aims to promote awareness of ways of making cost-effective, healthy food, with various prizes, including entry into the Student Cookbook, which is handed out to all first and second year students at the beginning of term.A cooking demonstration took place in the Student Centre on January 23rd. The final submission deadline is February 2nd, which ties in with a final demonstration and cook-off on February 14th.SU Campaigns and Communications officer Brendan Lacey has endorsed the idea, stating that “it’s something just to show students that there are actually quite healthy meals you can make on a budget and it’s particularly in their interest to come together with one or two friends and make a couple of dishes that are really good for you.”Lacey went on to say that “we don’t do enough as a community in UCD and that’s something we’re working on, something I’ve always worked on, trying to create a little bit more of an open community feel around UCD.”The competition is open to all students and staff.UCD Ad Astra Academy Sixty-five students have been presented with scholarships from the UCD Ad Astra Academy. The scholarships are awarded in recognition of exceptional achievements and talents in scholarship, sport, and the performing arts. The awards were presented by the President of UCD, Dr Hugh Brady, at an inaugural ceremony in O’Reilly Hall.UCD Ad Astra Academy scholars receive specialised supports to develop their talents, individual academic mentoring, a programme of specific Academy activities and a bursary covering fee remission, reduction of on-campus accommodation costs, and a stipend.“The UCD Ad Astra Academy offers unique opportunities and supports to a diverse group of high-achieving and highly talented students,” said the Registrar and Deputy President of UCD and Director of the UCD Ad Astra Academy, Professor Mark Rogers.“The university recognises exceptional students when they join, as well as those who develop their talents while studying … Through membership of the Academy, students displaying elite potential to international standards in academic pursuits, sports or performing arts are encouraged and supported to develop their talent further.”Ad Astra Scholarships are awarded to students when they accept a place in an undergraduate programme or as they progress through their studies at the University, based on subsequent performance.