More than €1 million has been invested in LIT’s scholarship programme in just five years, thereby ensuring higher education accessibility through financial support to more than 100 students.
This academic year alone 45 LIT students received scholarships - 26 through the Leaders@LIT Student Scholarship Programme and a further 19 via the HEA 1916 Bursary Fund – Programme for Access to Higher Education.
The recipients, along with the donors who have contributed more than €1million to the scholarship fund to date, were recognised at a special ceremony earlier this week at Limerick Institute of Technology, Moylish Campus.
Congratulating the scholarship recipients guest speaker, Limerick’s All Ireland Hurling Winning Manager and School Principal, John Kiely, compared them to a “great full forward” taking advantage of every opportunity. But he added, “No one said it was going to be easy.”
Mr Kiely said, “You the scholarship winners have demonstrated you have the work ethic and ability to achieve in your studies over the coming years and in your professional lives, and this scholarship will give you the best opportunity to maximise that potential.
“You are about to join an elite group of those that went before you, a group that can and will go on to make significant difference in many fields of work in Ireland, Europe and the world in years to come.”
He had also this advice for the recipients: “You have a cohort of a wonderful team beside you (at LIT) so put them to work, play with them, play hard, and get the most out of it.”
In its fifth year the LIT student scholarships aims to alleviate financial strain experienced by targeted student, allowing the recipients to concentrate fully on their education and finish their course of study. The programme has proved hugely successful and popular among students who may otherwise struggle to attend college.
Speaking at the awards ceremony Social Care Student and Deputy President of LIT Students’ Union, Jade Foynes said, “I may not be standing here today without the support of this scholarship. It has meant the world to me and my family. I am from Moyross, and I couldn’t be more proud standing here today telling you my story and letting others know there is support available and that education is for all.”
“I would encourage all the sponsors to never underestimate the difference you are making by investing in a student’s potential. Your investment changes lives, it most definitely changed me,” said the Leaders@LIT recipient.
Shirley Costello from Scarriff, County Clare was the first person to complete her bursary application this year. She told those attending the ceremony, “The day I got the phone call to say I got the bursary a weight was lifted off my mind. It was the best feeling ever. The bursary allowed me the freedom to focus on college.”
Having left school as a soon to be young single mother just after her junior cert, Shirley acknowledged education took a back seat for a long time, and a series of jobs left her unfulfilled.
Then she opted to change the course of her life and return to education. She was drawn immediately to the renewable energy electrical engineering course at LIT as it would benefit her professionally and benefit the environment, but financing her time in college remained a concern. The 1916 Bursary allayed those concerns.
Second year electrical engineering student Alan Spillane from Cappawhite, Tipperary said, “The scholarship has opened doors for me which would not have been at all possible without it. Due to this I have also gained invaluable career experience through seasonal work placement with my sponsor, working on large-scale projects ranging from data-centres, pharmaceuticals to commercial buildings.
“Another big advantage from receiving the ‘Leaders@LIT Scholarship Award’ is that it provided me with motivation to aim to become a good leader in my field. It has spurred me on to set up and become chairperson of a student run society called ‘Club Solcar LIT’ where we create functional vehicles powered from the sun’s energy, with an aim to compete at the American Solar Challenge in 2021, while creating awareness towards a zero emissions world for the future.”
Congratulating the students and schools involved in the scholarship programmes Professor Vincent Cunnane, President of LIT said the Leaders@LIT Student Scholarship Programme and HEA 1916 Bursary Fund help make Higher Education as accessible as possible.
He thanked the donors for both their financial contributions and other opportunities they provide for LIT students and graduates.
“While your support of the Leaders@LIT scholarship relieves students of financial concerns that would impact negatively on their study, your investment in the scholarship and the students goes far beyond that. Your sponsorship is a vote of confidence in the students' abilities and is an acknowledgement of their value to their community, society and the future economy of the region. It is a vote of confidence in the next generation of leaders who may not have otherwise got their chance to shine. This benefits individuals, their families, communities and the region,” he said.
Dr Liam Brown, Vice President Research, Development, Innovation, LIT said, “I am delighted to be part of LIT’s scholarship programme and am very proud of this year’s recipients.
“These scholarships make a meaningful difference to the lives of students, relieving them of financial outlays that would otherwise require them to take a part time job. It allows them to focus on their studies, giving them the greatest chance at sucess. We are particularly thankful to the donors whose financial contributions make this programme possible. I would also like to thank the schools, their principals and teachers who are instrumental in raising awareness of the programme amongst their students. Finally I would like to thank LIT, for its ethos of inclusiveness, and all staff that help to make this programme a success.”
Speaking on behalf of the Leaders@LIT Student Scholarship sponsors Director and Chief Commercial Officer of Pinergy Peter Bastable told students, “In business we all need a helping hand. We had to rely on people to back our vision to make Pinergy what it is today, and that is why we have such a passion for this initiative. We are delighted to support the LIT Scholarship Awards”.
Speaking on behalf of the 1916 Bursaries Neil McDermott, Senior Manager within the HEA’s Access Policy Section, with responsibility for the implementation of the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education said, “The main goal from the National Access Plan is to ensure that students entering our colleges reflect the diversity and richness of our population. Therefore the 1916 Bursaries are designed to help students make that start in college, to support them through their studies right through to graduation day. I wish to congratulate the bursary recipients and their families and also thank LIT for all its work in supporting its students.”