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Posted 31 January 2014

94 scholars join the UCD Ad Astra Academy

The President of University College Dublin, Professor Andrew Deeks, welcomed 94 new scholars into the Ad Astra Academy at a ceremony in the UCD O’Reilly Hall on Thursday 30 January 2014.

The new scholars, 61 academic, 22 elite sport and 11 performance arts, join 116 existing students in the Academy, bringing the total number up to 210.

The academic Ad Astra awards are given to new entrants who score six A1s (or equivalent) in their Leaving Certificate or final State examination, and to a number of existing students who top their year with a minimum first class honour.

Ad Astra Academy Scholars 2014
Ad Astra Academy Scholars 2014

Unsurprisingly, Medicine attracted the highest number of first year Ad Astra scholars with eleven and the second highest number was to Engineering with nine students.  Four schools achieved three Academic Ad Astras: David Hayes, Stephen Heffernan and Cathal Tobin O’Brien from CBS Clonmel, Cathal Ó Dulacháin, Conor De Paor and Donal Ó Catháin from Colaiste Eoin, Dublin, Jennifer Freeley, Romy Lynch and Sarah Egan from Mount Anville College, Dublin and Brian McDonnell, Philip O’Shea, Shreyash Pattanayak from Institute of Education, Dublin .  Uniquely, Liceo A Pigafetta, a school in Vincenza, Italy, achieved two Academic Ad Astras – one in Agricultural Science and another in English and Drama; although the students – Eva Ziggiotto and Carlotta Fanton – did not even know each other until they arrived in Dublin.

In sport, nine sports are represented among the new Ad Astra Elite Athlete scholars: canoe/kayak, equestrian, handball, hockey, hurling, rowing, rugby, soccer and swimming.  The largest number (5) represent swimming and the scholars include paralympian gold medallist Darragh McDonald from Gorey Community School who is now studying Commerce at UCD.

In the performance arts, six scholars were successful in music and five in drama.  In addition to their art, they are studying English, Music, Science, Medicine, Arts Management and Actuarial & Financial Studies.

Each year the composition of the Academy has grown more diverse and this year UCD has awarded scholarships in new sporting disciplines (Handball, Equestrian, Canoe /Kayak), new programmes (Vet Nursing) and to students from counties and secondary schools not previously represented.  This year’s scholars come from 74 schools throughout Ireland, as well as from Northern Ireland, Britain, Italy, Germany and the USA.

Even within families there can be remarkable Ad Astra diversity as first year academic scholar Aoife Boyle from St. Wolstan's Community School, Cellbridge joined older sister Niamh to study medicine and elite athlete scholar, Tomas, who is one of the existing soccer athletes and is studying health & performance science.

The Ad Astra Academy, launched in 2011, is an initiative designed to recognise and nurture exceptional students.  Scholarships are awarded to new entrants and current students based on academic, sporting and performing arts achievement. The scholars benefit from a scholarship, discipline specific supports, mentoring and the opportunity to participate in development and networking opportunities.

Since it was set up in 2011, 434 scholarships have been awarded.  274 for academic achievement, 146 for elite sport and 41 in the performing arts.

Speaking at the Ad Astra Awards, the President of UCD, Professor Andrew Deeks said: “Through the Ad Astra Academy, UCD aims to introduce our scholars to an array of opportunities designed to support their personal, academic and performance development.  We set out to build skills, to encourage creative thinking and to foster a sense of society in these students so that not only to they achieve great things for themselves but that they make a valuable contribution to the wider world.”


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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