University of Galway appoints new Traveller Education Officer

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University of Galway’s Traveller Education Officer Anne Marie Stokes and Imelda Byrne, Head of Access Centre, at the recent Irish Traveller Ethnicity Day celebration at University of Galway. Credit – Aengus McMahon.

University of Galway has appointed its second ever full-time Traveller Education Officer to lead on the recruitment of and support students from the Irish Traveller community.

Anne Marie Stokes, a Traveller and alumnus of the University, succeeds Owen Ward in the role and will manage the Mincéirs Misl’d in Education – Empowering Irish Travellers project.

As Traveller Education Officer, Anne Marie Stokes will work in partnership with Irish Traveller organisations and the Irish Traveller community.

She will build on government policies and strategies to provide a detailed, evidence-based understanding of barriers to access and progression in higher education for Travellers.

Anne Marie Stokes said she is proud to take up her new role as she has seen the University’s commitment to increasing the number of Travellers reaching higher education.

“I am very passionate about education, and I have a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s degree from University of Galway, and I look forward to supporting the further development of outreach, recruitment and support strategies to not only enable Traveller students to access university but to succeed once they do.”

Having previously worked with the Galway Traveller Movement, Anne Marie Stokes has also delivered cultural awareness training and anti-racism training to numerous service providers and industries.

She now joins a multidisciplinary team of professionals supporting students that are under-represented in higher education from the pre-entry stage of the student journey and throughout their time in University of Galway and Atlantic Technological University Galway-Mayo.

Imelda Byrne, Head of the Access Centre at University of Galway, said that the need for further engagement with the Irish Traveller Community has been identified through both practice and policy.

“A lot of progress has been made in recent years, but Irish Travellers are still heavily under-represented in higher education,” she said.

“We are delighted with Anne Marie’s appointment to continue and build on the work that has been done to date and look forward to new collaborations.”