Stephen changes courses

Friday November 8th 2013


After all the mix of emotions such as nerves and excitement that came with moving to Belfast, meeting new people and starting a course at university, most people would naturally conclude that things would begin to settle down somewhat. The nights out, like those of Freshers’ Fortnight would decrease dramatically, the early 9am lectures would start and visiting the library would become a regular event. Well, all of those things are certainly true, but what I didn’t expect was to have so many new and different opportunities in addition to those I was already experiencing.

The first of the events that happened this month was QUB’s Freshers’ Fair held at the Students’ Union on 2nd and 3rd October. As shown by the lengthy queues outside in the pouring Belfast rain, it is a landmark event in the academic year. Inside are over 190 clubs and societies ranging from snooker to skydiving, so there tends to be something for every student. In addition to signing up to various extra-curricular activities, I also received the opportunity to help out with Michaela Foundation. This year, Michaela Foundation is one of the RAG (Raise and Give) charities. Throughout the year, RAG holds various events, the proceeds of which are distributed between a select few charities which have been chosen by students in the previous year. The other volunteers and I invited students to express their interest in joining the Michaela Foundation Society at Queen’s, the plans of which are currently in the pipeline! I’m pleased to say that the response we got from the student body was fantastic and over the course of the two days, we received over 500 signatures! Volunteering at the stall was incredibly enjoyable as it was a great opportunity to meet new people. A lot of people had heard of the Foundation and jumped at the chance to sign up. Those that weren’t as familiar with it were eager to hear about the work that Michaela Foundation does and this ultimately produced a similar result. Upon signing up, students received a free wristband. I’ve been wearing one myself since then and it’s really nice to tell somebody about Michaela Foundation if they ask what the wristband is for.

This month, I also went back to visit my secondary school, Dean Maguirc College in Carrickmore. To be honest, I was looking forward to this day for weeks, especially as a lot of the other scholars had already visited their own schools. After I was introduced by both my former principal Mr Warnock and the operations manager for Michaela Foundation, Úna Kelly, I briefly spoke to the current year 14 pupils about my role as a Michaela Scholar, the monthly blogs and to encourage them to apply next year. I have to say, it was thoroughly enjoyable, largely due to the informal nature of the day. The craic was great and it was even better to see everyone again given that we shared a Post-16 common room last year. I would just like to reiterate that I’d love for the students there to enter next year as they are undoubtedly suited to the role of a Michaela Scholar!

Another exciting experience that happened this month was the fact that I have changed my course at University. Previously, I was studying Business Management at Queen’s, but I have now changed to Law in what is known as an ‘Internal Transfer’. To those that I have told, the response I often get is, “Did you not like your course?” and truthfully, the answer to that is I actually was enjoying my course, but I have always had an interest in Law.  For me, hearing about the lack of employment prospects was always putting me off somewhat. However, when I started my first course at the end of September, I was always having a gut feeling that I should at least try to change because “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Fortunately, I was successfully transferred and I’m pleased to say that I love the course. Yes, there’s no denying that it’s challenging, but I’m willing to put the work in to reap the benefits.

The most recent event took place on a chilly Thursday night/Friday morning in the wee hours at the front of Elms Village. Thanks to the brilliant fundraising idea from fellow scholar, Killian Barrett, members of Michaela Foundation and the Residential Life team here at Elms Village held a tea station from 1am to 3am which consisted of tea, coffee, bottles of water, biscuits and sweets. So many people were glad to avail of the hot beverage after a night out. Donations were optional, but the fantastic amount raised on the night is testament to both the generosity and appreciation of the students. Huge congratulations have to be given to Killian for what was an excellent idea!

That brings me to the end of this month’s events. Now with Halloween fast approaching, nightclubs are advertising their promotions, costumes are being donned everywhere you look – and there’s even a game of Humans Vs Zombies here at Elms!

Here’s to another jam-packed month in Béal Feirste!

Until next month,