NUI Galway Rewards Excellence with new Gold Medal for Civic Engagement in Health Sciences

Orlaith Lyons and Dr Lorcán Ó Maoileannaigh
Aug 24 2020 Posted: 11:46 IST

13 gold medals were awarded to students in the area of Medicine and Health Sciences in 2020

NUI Galway has been acknowledging student excellence through the award of gold medals in Medicine for over 100 years, and this year, in partnership with the Community Knowledge Initiative, an additional gold medal was awarded to a student in the Health Sciences for their Civic Engagement contribution.

Civic Engagement activities can take many forms including student volunteering, service learning, collaborate research projects and other activities that benefit both the community and the university including its’ students and staff.

Orlaith Lyons, a final year Speech and Language Therapist from County Clare, was awarded the inaugural Gold Medal in Health Sciences for her outstanding record of civic engagement service and achievement. Orlaith has been volunteering with the civil defence providing emergency first aid to the public for community and national events year-round, and has training in search and rescue and has various qualifications for local/national missing person’s searches, body recoveries and severe weather events. Orlaith acts as casualty for major emergency simulations, and Fire Service and Civil Defence training and volunteers with Hear Me! and Communication Partner Programme  to raise awareness of communication disabilities. As part of her Speech and Language qualification she provides six weekly visits to a person living with aphasia to learn how they communicate and live, and since COVID-19 began she has been providing meals on wheels to those who are cocooning. 

Speaking on the award of her gold medal Orlaith said: “It is an honour to be announced as the inaugural winner of the CKI Civic Engagement Gold Medal Award. Emerging as a new graduate, my civic engagement achievements will enable me to bring transferable and desirable skills to the work force. Many hours spent at Civil Defence training, community duties and emergency call-outs have instilled in me a combination of skills, values, and self-motivation. Leadership, team work, communication and problem solving skills will be transferable to all aspects of my life and my career as a Speech and Language Therapist. The academic team of the NUI Galway Speech and Language Therapy Department fostered my self-confidence, adaptability and work ethic. This gave me the boost I needed to take on new roles and responsibilities in Civil Defence and the Equestrian Club as the course progressed.”

Professor Caroline McIntosh, Head of the School of Health Sciences and Professor of Podiatric Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “This civic engagement medal will be awarded annually to the graduate with the most outstanding record of service to his/her community, and to society in general. We hope that this medal will encourage our students to become more active in their communities, to give of their time and energy to work in collaboration with our patients, the communities in which they live, patient representative organisations and other community groups.”  

Dr Lorraine McIlrath, Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) Co-Ordinator at NUI Galway, acknowledged the calibre of all the applicants for the gold medal: “The Community Knowledge Initiative has supported the Civic engagement Medal in Medicine since its inception in 2013, and we are now delighted to support the new Medal for Civil Engagement in Health Sciences. The standard of applications means that all applications are so deserving and we are delighted to award this inaugural medal to Orlaith Lyons, a BSc Speech and Language Therapy Student.”

This year, building on a tradition of rewarding excellence for over 100 years, a total of 13 gold medals in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences were awarded to final year students. Twelve medals were awarded to final year Medicine students including a second Gold Medal for Civic Engagement. This medal was awarded to Dr Lorcán Ó Maoileannaigh from Dublin for his fundraising and his dedication to the representation of student voice through NUI Galway’s Student Union, and the NUI Galway Healthcare Society.

The twelve gold medals include awards for General Practice, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Paediatrics, Radiology, Psychiatry, Surgery, Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, and the IUMC Comerford Award, the John D. Kennedy Award for Health and Disease, and the John Flynn Medal for Health and Disease and the James Devaney Medal in Perioperative and Intensive Care Medicine.

-Ends-

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