On 12th October, friends and supporters of Dublin City University joined the DCU Educational Trust for its annual Leadership Circle Dinner; a night of thanks which celebrates the ways in which the generosity of the University’s leading donors helps to transform lives and societies through education.
The evening, hosted by the Trust’s Director of Development, Rachael Dunne, was a wonderful celebration, with awards in three different categories presented on the night for Individual Leadership, Staff Leadership and Corporate Leadership.
This year, the Individual Leadership Award went to Paul and Margaret Kerley, in recognition of their long standing personal support of the DCU Access Scholarship Programme, and more recently, their commitment to autism and inclusion within mainstream education in Ireland.
The Staff Leadership Award went to Chief Operations Officer at the University, Dr. Declan Raftery, in recognition of his contribution to the development and establishment of one of the University’s most high profile and important projects in the Campus Development Plan: the establishment of the ‘U’, DCU’s new state-of-the-art student centre.
The final award of the night was for Corporate Leadership, which was presented to PwC in recognition of their support for DCU for over 20 years. During this time, PwC have generously supported the GAA Sports Scholarships, as well as the Access Scholarship Programme, and have been a founding and on-going partner in the DCU National Centre for Family Business.
When presenting the award to Feargal O’Rourke, Managing Partner at PwC, Rachael Dunne described “a company that has played a leading role in highlighting the power of philanthropy to support initiatives of great importance for our society and our economy.”
Music on the evening was supplied by the hugely talented traditional music group SeanChas and singer-songwriter Katie Gallagher. Katie performed her single, Yesterday, which she released in aid of DCU’s Dementia Research.
Guests also heard from Access graduate, Debbie Somorin, who became homeless at the age of 13. Through support from a number of sources, including the DCU Access Scholarship Programme, she was able to complete a BA in Accounting and Finance and an MSc in Accounting at DCU. She is now a qualified chartered accountant and soon to be an assistant manager with PwC.
Speaking at the dinner, Debbie thanked attendees for their generosity towards the Access Scholarship Programme, stating:
“It is because of the Access Programme that I am where I am today and it’s not just me. Many young people who participate in the programme are the first in their family to go to university. We have no role models or motivators to encourage us to focus on studying so we can make a better life for ourselves. The DCU Access programme understands this and they create programmes with those role models and motivators.”