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UCD in the Community Volunteering Awards recognise students for exceptional service

Posted 8 November 2023

Over 60 UCD students involved in volunteering activities have had their outstanding contributions to society recognised at the UCD in the Community Volunteering Awards.

Given to those students who have excelled at making a positive change to the University and the wide community, the recipients of the 2023 awards are at the centre of running UCD sports clubs, societies, class rep and peer mentorship programmes, as well as actively contributing to UCD’s strategy ‘Rising to the Future’ through their external volunteering endeavours.

In a special ceremony this month in the UCD Global Lounge 61 students from across the University were recognised for their outstanding contribution to society through volunteering. 

There were three award categories available to UCD students, Bronze (20 hours of volunteering), Silver (40 hours of volunteering) and Gold (60+ hours of volunteering). 

Gold Awardee Andrea O’Reilly (BSc Physiotherapy, Year 3), Riley Colson (BSc General Nursing, Year 3), Silver Awardee, and Richard Otroshchenko (DN710 Economics, Year 2) Bronze Awardee spoke about their personal volunteering experiences.

Gold Awardees

Name Subject Year
Abhinav Jindal Graduate Entry Medicine Year 2
Advayta Zadoo MSc. Data and computational science Masters
Aishling Flannery Economics Year 3
Aisling Maloney Law with Politics Year 2
Alan O'Donnell Mechanical Engineering Year 2
Amit Wasnik MSc Information Systems Postgrad
Amy Roche Sociology and Social Policy Year 3
Andrea O'Reilly Physiotherapy Year 3
Chris Hastings Psychology Year 3
Ciara Coughlan Business and Law Year 4
Ciara Donohue General Nursing Year 2
Clíona Beirne Animal and Crop Production Year 2
Connor Stack MSc of Human Rights Postgrad
David FitzGerald Business and Law Year 4
Deborah Akinlolu Food Science Year 4
Ethar Al Matar Medicine Year 2
Grace O'Donnell BSc Psychology Year 2
Hania Ibrahim Medicine Year 3
Hannah Kate Costello BSc Social Sciences Year 2
Jenitta Maria Jimmy Radiography Year 3
Jinzi Zuo Digital marketing Postgrad
Jonah Glowatz International commerce Leave of absence
Ka Yuet Emily Siu Medicine Year 4
Kevin Brady Cell and Molecular Biology Year 4
Lakshmi Palavesam Master of Public Health Postgrad
Mohammed Hassan Obaidan Medicine Year 2
Mohannad Khalid A Ahmad Medicine Year 3
Olga Telnova MSc Supply Chain Management Postgrad
Priyanka Saini Physics with Astronomy and Space Science Year 1
Rónan Brennan Theoretical Physics Year 3
Rossa Gilsenan Social Justice and Sociology Year 3
Soumya Arora Law and Politics Year 3
Tia Cullen General Nursing Year 2

“This was a truly transformative experience and definitely one of the best six weeks of my life so far,” said Andrea, who volunteering in a rehabilitation camp for children with special needs (spina bifida, hydrocephalus, down syndrome, and cerebral palsy).

“There is a big stigma associated with having a disability in Uganda. Many of the mothers think that there is some pill or cure in Western society that will 'fix' their child. A lot of what we were doing was addressing their concerns and beliefs and educating the mothers around their child's conditions.

“What made my volunteering experience was the people. This was made, not only by my fellow volunteers, which were a remarkably like-minded group, but also the local Ugandans. We forged strong connections and learned so much from them. Their unwavering spirit and warm welcome was incredibly touching.”

Silver Awardees

Name Subject Year
Beyza Ozbek MSc Digital Marketing Postgrad
Claire Doherty Sociology and Social Policy Year 2
Hayfa Fatima Soobratty Undergraduate Medicine Year 4
Iva Sharma Bsc Computational Social Science Year 1
Jane Creevy Dn750 Year 3
Jason Lee Commcerce International - Chinese Year 2
Katie Caffrey BSc. Human Nutrition Year 2
Kavya Poonacha Marketing Postgrad
Riley Colson BSc General Nursing Year 3
Yiling Sun Economics & Finance Year 2

Silver Awardee Riley Colson, part of the UCD Volunteers Overseas Society and who helped setup ‘Conversation Cafes’ for Ukrainian refugees to improve their English, said one of the most rewarding aspects of their volunteering had been “witnessing the transformation in the lives of those I've had the privilege to work with”.

“Through this experience, I've come to realise that making an impact isn't always about grand gestures; sometimes, it's the consistent acts of kindness that create lasting change.”

“I think that’s part of why I’ve really enjoyed volunteering with UCD’s St. Vincent de Paul society,” said Richard Otroshchenko. “Every night feels important, most of the people you help are so genuinely grateful, and it just feels like I’m making a positive and important contribution to my community.”

Bronze Awardees

Name Subject Year
Aditya Reddy Billur Undergraduate Entry Medicine Year 3
Aimee McFadden Children’s and General Nursing Year 2
Aisling Kearns Law with Social Justice Year 3
Alshema Mousa  Architecture, Urbanism & Climate Action Postgrad
Chloe Ní Mhurnáin Integrated Nursing - Children's and General Year 2
Emma Casey Psychology Year 3
Jonas Kager BSc Economics Year 2
Matthew Hamer History & Politics Year 2
Miranda Bauer BA Modern Languages Year 4
Mohammed Hassan Obaidan Medicine Year 2
Rachel O'Dwyer BA Joint Honours in English and Irish Year 3
Raveena Dwarika Medicine Year 4
Renzhula Na Digital Marketing Year 1
Richard Otroshchenko DN710 Economics Year 1
Shania Lee Medicine Year 2
Vedanti Borate Msc. Data and Computational Science Postgrad
Wen Xin Bong Bachelor in Commerce Year 2

Volunteering activities honoured at the UCD in the Community Volunteering Awards included UCD based activities, like the UCD Saint Vincent De Paul Society, UCD Festival, UCD Peer Mentors, UCDSU, UCD Green Campus, UCD Lyons Farm, University Observer, Enactus UCD, The College Tribune, UCD French Society, UCD Traditional Music Society, UCD Karate Club, UCD Volunteer Overseas, UCD LGBTQ+ society, Student Legal Service Society, UCD Alumni Volunteering, and UCD Literary and Historical Society.

Outside of UCD, students contributed to community organisations such as Jigsaw, Oxfam, 50808 - Text About It, Children in Hospital Ireland, Dublin Simon Community, National Council for the Blind Ireland, Foodcloud, Culture Night, Dublin City Volunteer Centre, St Patrick's Festival, South Dublin Community Volunteers, Gorm Media, Saudi Students Club in Ireland, Enable Ireland and SAOL Women’s Project.

Friends and family of the awardees were welcomed to the ceremony by Professor Joe Carthy, Director of UCD in the Community, who thanked the awardees for their contributions and encouraged them to continue volunteering into the future. 

Guest speaker Associate Professor Hilda Loughran, from the UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, spoke about the importance of volunteering as a means of social inclusion and the value of volunteering in building student’s sense of belonging to the UCD community. 

The UCD in the Community Student Volunteering Awards were established in 2020 with the aim of celebrating and recognising student volunteering in the community and in UCD activities, such as clubs, societies, peer mentoring, class representatives and the SU.

The Awards draw on a strong tradition of student volunteering in UCD, both on and off campus.

For more information on the Awards, visit here.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations (with materials from Theresa O'Leary, UCD in the Community)

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie