A Tipperary student, who recently completed her undergraduate studies at Mary Immaculate College (MIC), has been awarded a Silver Gaisce Award in recognition of her volunteer work in her local community of Silvermines.
Aoife Nolan was recently presented with her award by Dr Angela Canny, Assistant Dean of Education at MIC, and Fr Michael Wall, College Chaplain, at the College’s Limerick campus. Commenting on her award, Aoife said, “I am absolutely thrilled to have progressed forward and been awarded a Silver Gaisce Award. The award shows my motivation to set goals and achieve them to a high standard. It’s disappointing that there are no regional award ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the world we are living in now has changed and you have to accept these changes as they arise. I’m delighted that Dr Canny invited me back to the College to accept the award as it was a lovely way to mark the occasion.”
MIC has a long tradition with the Gaisce Awards having been involved in the self-development programme for over 15 years. Throughout this time, Fr Michael Wall, College Chaplain and lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at MIC, has coordinated the PAL (President’s Award Leader) programme at the College whereby a mentor is assigned to students aiming for Gaisce Awards.
Throughout the past two years, Aoife was mentored by Dr Angela Canny as she worked towards her Silver Award. Presenting Aoife with her medal, Dr Canny said, “I am super proud of Aoife and honoured to have mentored her for her Silver Gaisce Award. She has shown great character, discipline and persistence as she completed all tasks associated with the silver medal. She is a worthy ambassador for Gaisce and an inspiration for any young person contemplating applying to Gaisce.”
Commending Aoife on her achievement, Fr Michael Wall said, “Hearty congratulations to Aoife who has shown great character and commitment to Gaisce. A Gaisce Award at any level requires a lot of determination and self-discipline, and Aoife exemplifies all the best qualities of a Gaisce award recipient.”
Over 26 weeks, Aoife completed all stages of the self-development programme from playing tennis with Nenagh Lawn Tennis Club to volunteering as public relations officer for her local club, Silvermines Juvenile GAA Club, as well as assisting her elderly grandmother. According to Aoife, “It was very fulfilling to be able to give something back to my grandmother for everything she has done for me and my family over the years. There is also nothing like the feeling of pride and fulfilment that comes from giving back to your local community.”
Having achieved her Bronze Award while in Transition Year at St. Mary's Secondary School in Nenagh, Aoife’s Gaisce journey continues as she now plans on going for gold. She said, “It would really top off the fantastic journey I am currently on. Hopefully, when I have completed my Gold Award, I will get the opportunity to meet the President of Ireland at the Gold Award ceremony. Not many people continue to complete the Gold Award so to be one of the few would be a great privilege for me and my family.”
Following the completion of her Bachelor of Arts degree in Gaeilge and Geography this summer, Aoife is now hoping to become a primary teacher and credits her Gaisce award as one of the achievements that helped secure her place on her postgraduate programme. She said, “It stands out on your CV because it shows people that you are able to use your own initiative, set your own goals, and motivate yourself to complete activities every week.”
Recalling her time at MIC, Aoife says, “I have had an amazing four years at MIC. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed the Bachelor of Arts programme and would highly recommended it to future third-level students. All lecturers that I had the opportunity to engage with were very helpful and the programme gives you the opportunity to study subjects you are interested in, as well as subjects which are new to you. Having the placement in Year 3 is also a great opportunity to help you decide on your career path. It was during this placement that I knew that primary teaching was the career for me. Knowing that I can make a difference in students' lives is my main driving force.”
The Gaisce Awards are internationally recognised and highly valued by many employers. There are many benefits for those who participate including enhanced confidence, communication and leadership skills, increased empathy and altruism, self-efficacy, motivation and personal growth. MIC has brought 30 students to Gold Awards since its involvement in the early 2000s. Over 300,000 young people aged between 15 and 25 have participated in the Gaisce programme since 1985.
More information on Gaisce can be found at www.gaisce.ie.