Photo credit: James Alkayed
The President’s Award ceremony took place last Friday 9th March, in O’Reilly Hall. Sixteen students received the award for excellence in extra-curricular activities within UCD. This year, the backgrounds of the students ranged from involvement in societies to representing UCD in the Irish Times Debating Competition to highlighting social inequalities in Ireland. Nominations were open for UCD students through the UCD Societies Facebook page.
Commencing the ceremony, Prof. Mark Rogers, registrar and vice-president of UCD, spoke about the importance of giving back to the community. Prof. Imelda Maher, Dean of Law, proceeded to announce the recipients of this year’s awards.
James Bergin, a medical student was nominated for his performances in Musical Society productions, such as Bonnie and Clyde and A Chorus Line during the society’s 6th session, going on to direct their production of Parade. He has also worked with UCD Volunteer Overseas in Haiti and Uganda.
UCD Boat Club intervarsity winner William Byrne received the award for his involvement in the Boat Club having served as commodore, overseeing the UCD Event of the Year. He also oversaw IUSA Inter-varsities 2017 and ran a fundraising mini team racing event. Described as “epitome of the word dedication,” he improved the society’s financial status, allowing the purchase of a new fleet of boats.
Establishing the Politics and International Relations Society, Sarah El Said received her award for “managing and maintaining the society in all its aspects and has linked UCD with Jean Kennedy Smith by naming the society’s award named after her with her consent.”
Ryan Gillespie has been heavily involved with Dramsoc productions, both as an actor and director. He has served as the committee’s Freshers’ Rep and secretary over his time in UCD. Along with receiving the award, Gillespie has been congratulated by Paul Harris, author of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly books, for his direction of the plays. He has also been a part of MedSoc fundraising events.
Moving on to social issues, Disability Rights Coordinator and Access Leader, Amy Hassett received her award for her work in highlighting that Ireland was late to ratify the UNCRPD and issues facing students with disabilities on campus.
Commended for his work behind Minister Katherine Zappone’s National LGBTI+ Youth Strategy, and at the forefront of BeLonGTo’s Stand Up ‘17 campaign against homophobic bullying, Aryton Kelly received the president’s award and is also named by Irish Times as one of “50 to watch in 2018”.
Auditor of MedSoc, Shane Kelly was nominated for representing UCD in the Irish Times Debating Competition and at numerous intervarsity debating competitions. Through his role as auditor, he has raised large amounts of money for charity and inaugurated a national undergraduate medical research conference.
Vice-Auditor of UCDSVP Daniel Kiernan received his award for his work with Fáilte Refugees Campaign to promote social justice and raise the awareness of issues such as homelessness, mental health, and living standards.
Kathy McGrath was also awarded for her involvement with a number of charitable projects in UCD. She has raised substantial amounts of money for the Irish Cancer Society, Debra Ireland, and the Harold’s Cross Hospice.
In the world of sports, Irish captain in the European Soccer Championships, Chloe Mustaki, was awarded for her incredible sporting achievements, while also lining out for the UCD Waves in the Aviva Stadium.
Fellow Access Leader and UCD Ambassador, Weronika Nowak received the award for working with students in the UCD’s link DEIS schools to pursue higher education. She has also worked on the UCD Festival, leaving cert. revision classes, learning visits and award ceremonies.
Tommy O’Brein was selected to captain Ireland U20XV for the 2017/18 6 Nations Championship but despite his international commitments, he has also been a very committed member of the UCD Rugby Club, attending matches and supporting the squad even when he was unavailable for selection.
Manager of UCD RFC Student Tag Rugby, Tadhg O’Leary was awarded the president’s award for organising and directing this sport with “great enthusiasm and efficiency and the outstanding success of the activity is a testament to Tadhg’s remarkable organisational and management abilities.”
Final year zoology student, Joanna O’Malley received the president’s award for her work as auditor of both Biological Society and Arts Soc, during her undergraduate degree. She has also represented the L&H society in the European Debating Championships and DCU Open.
Auditor of Law Society, Aodhán Peelo has seen recent success as a finalist at both the Irish Times Debate Competition and the Final of the European University Debate Championships in Vienna in 2015. He received his award for “providing an inclusive faculty focused atmosphere” within the society.
Finally, computer science student, Donagh Ruane was awarded for being the first first-year student to appear in Dramsoc’s inaugural show. Since coming to UCD he has appeared in 20 Dramsoc productions and been involved as both a producer and director, most recently he co-directed Philadelphia, Here I Come. Ruane has served on the committee as Freshers’ Rep, Treasurer, and Theatre Manager.