David Butler and Vicky Kavanagh head to US on WIP Programme
Two DCU students, David Butler and Vicky Kavanagh are this year's successful candidates in the Washington Ireland Programme 2011. They will both travel to Washington this summer to take part in a nine week personal and professional internship programme.
According to Ambassador Michael Collins, Irish Ambassador to the United States, "The Washington Ireland programme is a unique opportunity for Irish students to learn about the American political process and how Washington DC really works. Ireland's relationship with the United States is one of our most important and it is essential that future Irish leaders appreciate that relationship. WIP helps to make that happen."
David Butler, aged 20, and originally from Kilkenny, is a 3rd year student of Business and Irish at DCU. He has been involved in many local and national projects in recent years. He was chairperson of An Cumann Gaelach for the academic year 2009/2010, and was also the Irish Officer for DCUSU in 2009/2010.
Outside of DCU, he is on the organising committee for the national language festival Rith http://www.rith.ie/. He recently founded Na Gaeil Óga CLG, which is the only GAA Club outside the Gaeltacht operating through the medium of Irish. The team is competing in the Dublin Leagues and Championships and is currently preparing for his first trip to Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta. He is currently in the process of founding a new dedicated fundraising society here in DCU, the first of its kind in Ireland. The aim of this society is to make fundraising enjoyable while also helping develop the social awareness of the student body.
"I have always been fascinated by the differences in various political systems and the cultures and societies that support them. I am particularly interested in Irish and American politics, and am relishing the opportunity to fine-tune my knowledge and understanding of same within the WIP environment. I am particularly looking forward to being part of a team that is challenged to develop a vision of Ireland that interrogates the existing political systems, and is also afforded the opportunity to look at new ways of improving them in a manner that benefits Irish Society in the 21st Century. Finally, I believe that my engagement with this programme will give me the opportunity for personal development by encouraging me to become more reflective about the world around me. In turn, I would hope to use any new skills gained to help me to interrogate and challenge my world, thus helping me to become a more active citizen".
David will spend his internship with Susan Davis International, a Communications and Public Affairs company which has a wide ranging clientele across a large number of sectors including corporations, non-profit organizations, trade associations and government agencies. They also have a personal commitment to aiding NGOs and civic boards.
"I am really looking forward to the internship. Hopefully I will gain a telling insight into how mass communication shapes public perception in Washington. In contrasting and comparing the effectiveness of mass communication in Washington with my personal experience of communications in Ireland, I will hopefully be able to gain a greater understanding of mass-communications and how they can be used to create greater opportunities for citizen engagement here in Ireland".
Vicky Kavanagh is a final year student on the BA in Journalism degree. She will spend her six-month internship working with RTE's Washington Correspondent, Richard Downes.
Speaking on her internship, Vicky said, "I have always had an awareness of the differences each one of us can make in the world. It is something which attracted me to my degree in journalism and in turn attracted me to the Washington Ireland Program. The ethos of working towards a more peaceful and stable peace process in the North, the opportunity to represent your university and country while gaining invaluable experience where all factors which really spoke to me. I earned my place at DCU through the Access Scholarship Program which is funded by the Educational Trust. Ever since I started at university three years ago, I have tried to give back what I could do this program by attending events, giving speeches and raising awareness about the wonderful work they do. I knew since I was 7-years-old that I wanted to be a journalist but I come from a background of financial difficulty. Without my scholarship, I would never have been able to pursue my dream.
"In my time at DCU I have held several editorial positions on the college newspaper, the College View, including Deputy News Editor, Deputy Arts Editor and more recently Features Editor. I helped found the very first Journalism Society at DCU and sat on the firs committee as Trips and Events Officer. In the past, I have been published in Dubliner magazine, Young Irelander and DCU's prized anthology. I was previously nominated for an award for my journalism around the issue of mental health; a topic which I am an advocate for and I just completed my thesis which was five feature articles on various issues in the mental health sector".
More than 400 young adults from Ireland have graduated from WIP, representing twenty-five different universities throughout the UK and Ireland. Many graduates are now emerging in important careers in politics, law, business, communications, education and community organizations. As they move into critical leadership roles, they retain their connection with WIP and continue to give back to their local communities through an active alumni