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MIC students commended for volunteer contributions to education in the community

Awards recipients with Professor Eugene Wall

Twenty Mary Immaculate College (MIC) students have been commended for "valuable" contributions to their community through voluntary tutoring of primary and post-primary students, and supporting the parents of migrant children in engaging with their child’s learning. The students were celebrated at a special awards event at MIC on Wednesday 17 April.

Four current undergraduate students were commended for their voluntary contribution to a pilot programme of learning support for recently arrived migrant families which was held from January to April 2024. These undergraduate students, Alan Sweeney and Senzokuhle Immaculate Masina (both B Sc Psychology students), and Mary Kate Condon and Rachel Elizabeth Crowley (both Bachelor of Education students) delivered the initiative with Scoil Mháthair Dé students in LCETB’S O’Connell Avenue campus in Limerick City from late January to mid-April. 

The aim of the programme was to provide children who are displaced from their home countries and are newcomers to the Irish education system with the opportunity to gain support in their learning and achievement in schools through personalised homework support. The project coordinator, Santhi Corcoran, Lecturer in MIC, developed a family learning model in collaboration with EAL team coordinator Simon Ratcliffe, in LCETB, which also supported parents and older family members in gaining English language skills, advice, information and guidance in accessing opportunities and pathways in local education institutions and programmes. These English as an Additional Language (EAL) classes were facilitated by tutors from the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board.

Also commended were 16 MIC students and graduates from the College’s post-primary programmes based in the MIC Thurles campus who prepared and delivered weekly classes supporting Leaving Certificate students in Maths, Irish and Business Studies in 2021 and 2022, which formed the basis for the Family Learning Project. The project was supported by the Head of School Dr Finn O’Murchú, Midwest Migrant Community Network, Doras and Limerick Youth Service.

Mary Kate Condon
Mary Kate Condon, PATH 3 Family Learning Project
Rachel Crowley
Rachel Crowley, PATH 3 Family Learning Project
Senzokuhle Immaculate Masina
Senzokuhle Immaculate Masina, PATH 3 Family Learning Project
Alan Sweeney
Alan Sweeney, PATH 3 Family Learning Project
Jennifer Kearney
Jennifer Kearney, The Free Tuition Project
Sarah Maher
Sarah Maher, The Free Tuition Project
Alannah Dunne
Alannah Dunne, The Free Tuition Project

Congratulating the students on their commendation was Professor Eugene Wall, President of MIC, who said: “The excellent work done by the students is extremely important to the institution. Part of the mission of MIC is to extend a students’ education into their formation as people and trying to equip them with a set of social justice values. This includes the many community projects we are involved in supporting vulnerable communities and children, especially relating to educational attainment. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the students and graduates on their valuable voluntary contribution.”

According to Santhi Corcoran, MIC PATH 3 Officer and Project Leader: “The PATH 3 funded project was an opportunity to design, develop and collaborate with our community stakeholders and colleagues in delivering a unique model of Family Learning. Our students’ contribution was key to the success of the project as well as the contribution of LCETB’s EAL tutors. It was a process of joint working that highlights the value of collaboration in delivering education programmes to all communities who need such support. 

“The aim of the family learning programme was to support in learning and access to pathways in education for disadvantaged, displaced and marginalised students and families. My thanks to all our key stakeholders and project contributors: LCETB team in O’Connell Avenue Campus, Limerick, Doras, Principals of Scoil Mhathair De and their staff, and the Parents and children who participated.”

PATH 3 is intended to provide funding to support the development of regional and community partnership strategies for increasing access to higher education by specified groups.

The funding for this project was provided by the HEA under the Programme for Access to Third-Level Strand 3 funding for the development of specific initiatives linked to the National Access Plan (2022-2028). The Family Learning project operationalised and built on the initial steps taken in phase 2 of PATH, towards the fulfilment of a multitude of policy recommendations outlined in the National Access Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2022 to 2028.