23 Nov Jon Cartu Writes: Joe Schmidt guest of honour as 125 students receive
Outgoing Ireland rugby head coach Joe Schmidt answered JP McManus’s All-Ireland Scholarships Awards call on Saturday.
He was guest of honour at University of Limerick where 125 students received prestigious scholarships, sponsored by Mr McManus.
The scholarships programme has been running since 2008 to support gifted students further their education. Each year 125 scholarships are awarded to students from the 32 counties.
Each recipient receives financial support for the duration of their third level studies.
Schmidt said education was a hugely important part of every young person’s development in life. “It’s fantastic to be able to be here today to recognise first hand the outstanding achievements of each and every student present,” he said.
He encouraged them to keep working hard and to make the most of opportunities.
The most popular area of study among the scholarship recipients is medicine, closely followed by engineering and science.
Belfast-born recipient and golfer Celina Hamill is currently studying medicine at King’s College, London, inspired by the extremely premature birth of her younger brother in 2009.
She said she hopes her love of biology alongside her volunteering experience will allow her to become a conscientious doctor.
Ten years ago Kieran Dalton, like Hamill today, was a delighted recipient of the All Ireland Scholarship scheme.
Since then, he has qualified as a pharmacist, completed a PhD in Philosophy and works full time as a lecturer in clinical practice in the School of Pharmacy, UCC, teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students across a range of healthcare disciplines.
Each scholarship is valued at €6,750 per annum in the Republic or £5,500 in Northern Ireland.
To date, 1,496 students have been awarded scholarship and 905 have graduated from university.
The Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor presented certificates to the 125 students receiving the scholarships.
“I hope that today’s recipients enjoy and get the utmost delight and reward from their higher education experience as you embark on the next chapter of your lives,” she said.