Adi Roche Applauds UL Volunteer Students
By Michaela Keating & Michelle Hogan (Fourth year BA in Journalism and New Media)
THE mission and vision of UL volunteers has been described as inspirational by one of Ireland’s leading charity campaigners.
UL honorary doctorate recipient and founder and voluntary CEO of Chernobyl Children International (CCI) Dr Adi Roche made her comments at the President’s Volunteer Awards.
The ceremony celebrated the 17,000 combined volunteering hours completed by UL students this academic year and also marked the launch of the new website Studentvolunteer.ie marking the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in student volunteering in Ireland and beyond.
“Volunteering has moved on so much from the knights in shining armour. It is about active citizenship; taking global responsibility and local responsibility and marrying all of that together. I think this is a place to nurture and sustain. I think if you can’t do it in university there’s a very poor chance that you are going to do it when you get out into the madness of the world, where you get caught up in trying to expand your life and career,” said Ms Roche.
“Students today probably aren’t even aware of it but the mark they leave for the next generation is a beautiful thing. Without even trying, they have actually made their mark and will continue to make their mark because the programme is expanding; we love to hear that. Not only is it expanding around the country but it is expanding within the home of UL and I think that is the panacea of something special for all of us,” she added.
As Chernobyl Children International marks its thirtieth anniversary this year, the charity’s CEO said she was hugely impressed by the lifelong learning experience gained by UL students through the PVA programme.
“I think you are marked by volunteering. It gets you to question things in a different way within our own society. My heart soars on days like this. Just to see the bright faces of all the young men and woman and seeing that spirit that is so alive. I believe that our world, not just our country, is in great hands,” she said.
Dr Roche also noted how Ireland’s history and past struggles have fuelled the passion and drive towards voluntary work. The lifetime achievement award winner believes UL is not a “run of the mill” university and that through the PVA programme, there will remain a legacy of volunteering in the university for years to come.
Since the establishment of the President’s Volunteer Award Programme in 2010, over 57,000 volunteer hours have been documented in student volunteering and student- led engagement continues to be the largest civic engagement activity in UL.
The 277 PVA recipients this year represented the entire study body; Access, undergraduate, postgraduate, international, erasmus and study abroad students – all contributing to worthy local organisations. The award recipients also represent almost every county in Ireland as well as countries including Spain, India, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Japan, China, the USA and Canada.
Speaking at the awards ceremony UL President, Professor Don Barry said the new service Studentvolunteer,ie was designed to connect higher education student volunteers across Ireland with local, national and international charitable and voluntary organisations.
“I’m proud to say that UL set the blueprint for what will now be a national asset for HEIs as well as charitable organisations in Ireland and beyond.”