Five NUI Galway Traveller students and the University’s Traveller Education Officer Owen Ward have been honoured with National Educational Achievement Awards.
The presentation was made by Minister Simon Harris at a ceremony at Exchange House in Dublin.
The five students, Anne Marie Ward, Jason Sherlock, Anna Keane, Rebecca Sherlock, and Ann Marie Ward are currently undertaking a Mature Student Access programme, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at NUI Galway.
The Exchange House Ireland National Educational Achievement Award is presented to Irish Travellers who have completed Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate, GCSE or A-level examinations or third level courses, in recognition of the hard work and commitment shown by the recipients in reaching their goals.
The awards highlight role models for other Travellers who may be considering formal education and are proactive in promoting the value of formal education.
Speaking after the ceremony, NUI Galway student Ann Marie Ward said: “I’m currently in my second year of an undergraduate degree and work part time with the STAR project in Tuam, Co. Galway.
“I’m very fortunate that I can apply what I learn in my degree and put it into practice while supporting Traveller youth and families in the community. It was an honour to be recognised and to receive this award.”
Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Manager of NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said that they are ‘hugely proud’ of the students and congratulate them on their “achievements to date and on this recognition from Exchange House.”
“Supporting Irish Travellers to access higher education is a key aspect of the Access programmes work for over two decades and NUI Galway is committed to not only enabling members of the Traveller community to access third level education but to succeed when they do.”
NUI Galway’s Traveller Education Officer Owen Ward received an award for his commitment to supporting Traveller students in education, his educational achievements and for commencing a part time PhD at the University this year.
“The award acknowledges the students’ commitment to education and as Traveller Education Officer, I am very proud of all their achievements and know that they will make a strong contribution to society as they complete their studies,” said Mr Ward.
“All the awardees are currently supported by the Mincéirs Misl’d in Education project and act as inspirational role models to others.”