Four students in Offaly have been selected as STEM Ambassadors for the County and recipients of the Offaly County Development Board STEM Scholarship Award.
The STEM Scholarship is for students taking a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics course at 3rd level who commenced in the academic year 2011/12.
The STEM Ambassadors and Scholarship Awardees are Jordan Nash - Coláiste na Sionna, Banagher; Sharon Boland - Coláiste Íosagain, Portarlington; Eoin Delaney - Tullamore College and Donncha Carroll - St Brendan’s Community College, Birr.
The students were presented with their award by Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick, Chairperson of Offaly County Development Board at an Awards Ceremony in the Council Chamber, Aras an Chontae on the morning of Friday 13th last. Speaking at the Ceremony Cllr. Fitzpatrick congratulated the students and highlighted that “as STEM Ambassadors they will have the opportunity to share their experiences of college life, the subjects they are studying and of the future career paths open to them to post-primary school students coming after them who will be making important choices in the coming years”.
Cllr Fitzpatrick thanked the funders Bord na Mona, Offaly County Council, the North Offaly Development Fund Ltd and the West Offaly Enterprise Fund Ltd for their support for the initiative. He also thanked the post-primary schools in Offaly and in particular the Principals and Career Guidance Counsellors for the huge support they gave to the initiative.
Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, Danny Owens, stated that Offaly County Council was delighted to be involved in the initiative. He congratulated the students and wished them well in their new role as STEM Ambassador.
Also speaking at the event was Mr Dominic Doheny the Business & Employers representative of Offaly County Development Board and the former President of the Midlands Chamber of Commerce. Mr Doheny highlighted the importance of having graduates with the necessary skills required by the companies operating in Ireland currently and the companies Ireland and Offaly wishes to attract. Mr. Doheny encouraged the STEM Ambassadors to “not just tick the box” but to really fulfil their role in influencing young people in their schools to take up STEM and in particular 1st, 2nd and 3rd years.
The Scholarship Programme is an initiative of Offaly County Development Board and was established to promote STEM courses among second level students by supporting 4 students in Offaly to pursue studies in this area and to become STEM Ambassadors for their schools. In taking up the role of STEM Ambassadors the students will communicate their passion and enthusiasm for STEM to secondary school students and will encourage other students to take up courses in these areas.
All secondary schools in Offaly were invited to get involved and to hold an internal competitive process to select a nominee for their school. The response from the schools around Offaly was extremely positive and there was great participation by the schools in supporting their students to go forward for the Award.
Each STEM Ambassador will be returning to their schools on a regular basis to talk to secondary students and give them an insight into the course they are studying, the subjects it entails, the types of career options open to them and to the life of a STEM student at the 3rd level institution they are attending.
Sharon Boland who attended school in Colaiste Iosagain in Portarlington is studying Physiotherapy in UCD. Donncha Carroll attended school in St. Brendan’s Community School, Birr and is studying Medicinal Chemistry in Trinity College, Dublin. Eoin Delaney attended school in Tullamore College and is studying Engineering in UCD. Jordan Nash attended school in Banagher College, Colaiste na Sionna and is studying Mechanical Engineering in GMIT.
The STEM Scholarship Programme is funded by Bord na Móna, The North Offaly Development Fund Ltd, The West Offaly Enterprise Fund Ltd and Offaly County Council. The West Offaly Enterprise Fund and the North Offaly Development Funds are two companies under the auspices of Offaly County Council which were established to administer funds put in place by the ESB following the closure of the Power Stations in Ferbane and Rhode.