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Two Killarney STEM students receive Johnson & Johnson’s University scholarship

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Two Killarney STEM student are among five in total from Kerry that have been selected for prestigious scholarships.

Dana Daneshvari Site Lead Janssen Sciences Ireland and Dr. Alan Morrison Vice-Dean for Undergraduate Affairs College of Science Engineering and Food Science University College Cork are pictured with recipient Méabh O’Connell University College Cork at Thomond Park Limerick to mark her receipt of a scholarship from global healthcare company Johnson & Johnson as part of its WiSTEM2D Programme. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography.

Eimear O'Connor (Annascaul), Sarah Lynch (Listowel), Méabh O’Connell (Killarney), Alison Ward (Castleisland) and Ciara Casey (Killarney) were amongst 62 students from across five Irish universities who have been awarded scholarships as part of the prestigious Women in STEM2D (WiSTEM2D) Undergraduate
Awards at the first ever national event held in Thomond Park Stadium, Limerick this week.

The Award recognises outstanding female students in STEM2D disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design. Sixty-two students from Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, University College Cork, University of Galway and Munster Technology University have received scholarships as part of the programme.

This is the eighth year of the annual awards programme, showcasing the company’s commitment to advancing female excellence in STEM fields.

This is the first year that the company has brought all recipients together for a day-long event, with all attendees benefitting from a unique learning experience, including workshops and breakout sessions, carefully tailored to foster their growth and provide them with the essential skills and knowledge needed to prepare them for a successful career.

Research published by the Higher Education Authority earlier this year identified that 35% of students in STEM-related courses at third level are female. Furthermore, the HEA noted that the gender gap continues to remain evident at post-primary level. Johnson & Johnson recognises the importance of inspiring students to consider a career in STEM, and is committed to igniting the spark of curiosity in young minds, nurturing the STEM leaders of tomorrow, and maintaining a robust talent pipeline to support the life sciences industry.

The five Kerry students selected to receive the scholarships are studying:

· Eimear O'Connor; Chemical and Biochemical Engineering; University of Limerick
· Sarah Lynch; Biological Sciences; Univeristy College Cork
· Méabh O’Connell; Food Science; University College Cork
· Alison Ward; Biomedical and Biological Sciences; Trinity College Dublin
· Ciara Casey; Pharmaceutical Biotechnology; Munster Technological University

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, said:
“Huge congratulations to the recipients of the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D Award on their achievements. What they have achieved to date is inspirational and I hope will encourage more women to study STEM.
“There is so much more we can do to reduce the gender gap in STEM studies and as Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science I am committed to pulling every lever to do so, and making sure that there are no barriers to educational opportunities.

“It’s a great time to celebrate this occasion as it’s Science Week, a time when we celebrate the wonders of science and the potential it holds.”

“Our capacity to tackle the challenges of the future will be significantly enhanced through advancements in research, science, and innovation and it’s clear to me the full potential of the STEM community can only be realised when we eliminate gender disparities.

“I want to thank industry leaders like Johnson & Johnson for their commitment to empowering and investing in brilliant young women. By igniting the spark of curiosity in young minds, nurturing the next generation of STEM leaders, and supporting the development of a robust talent pipeline, we are investing in our shared future.”

Anna Rafferty, Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D University Lead and Director of Strategy, Johnson & Johnson Campus Ireland, said:
"Our Irish WiSTEM2D journey started in Limerick in 2016, and it is wonderful to be here again eight years on, to see how this programme has grown. This is now a truly national initiative, impacting the early careers of women and STEM in all corners of the country.”

“Johnson & Johnson's commitment to supporting women in STEM runs deep. We understand the tremendous value diversity brings to innovation and progress, and we believe that by empowering and investing in these brilliant young women, we are not only shaping the future of STEM but also advancing solutions that will benefit our global community."

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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‘More Precious Than Gold’ book launch

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At the official book launch of ‘More Precious Than Gold: My enduring connection with John McShain – the man who built Washington’ by Alice O’Neill-McLoughlin at Killarney House, was Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, T.D.

Alice was born the eldest of eleven children into an Irish farming family in Rosbercon, New Ross, County Wexford. In 1978, she was awarded a scholarship from John McShain- the iconic builder, philanthropist, devout Catholic with Derry ancestry, responsible for many famous American landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial and the Pentagon.

Her book records the lifelong personal correspondence Alice exchanged with ‘The Man Who Built Washington.’ His philanthropy extended to the Irish people in the bequeathing to the State of Killarney House and the surrounding thousands of acres incorporating the Lakes, Ross Castle, and Innisfallen Island. In 2019, Alice had the honour of inducting John McShain into the Irish America Hall of Fame in her home town of New Ross in the presence of his relatives from Philadelphia and Derry. This is a tale of altruism, of gratitude, of faith and of a life lived in the pursuit of excellence.

Alice also donated her treasured correspondence of letters from John McShain for the archive at Killarney House. Also in attendance were Members of the Ignatius A. O’Shaughnessy family, who was founder of The Globe Oil and Refining Company – and part of a consortium of wealthy American businessmen who were going to purchase the lakes of Killarney as a Country Club in the 1950’s.

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