A RECORD 18 doctoral awards were conferred at the Mary Immaculate College (MIC) graduation last week, with a total of 1,010 students receiving awards from the college across 23 programmes.
Among those conferred with a PhD was Dr Noel O’Connell, who became only the second deaf person in Ireland to receive a doctorate. He earned the PhD for his study of deaf people’s experiences of education, believing that educators communicated in a language which was inaccessible to those with hearing difficulties.
He added that the majority of literature devoted to education of deaf people has been written from the dominant non-deaf perspective.
Dr O’Connell said: “Deaf people have not been adequately included as subjects in educational research. They are frequently excluded from studies concerning education and where they are included in such studies they tend to be under-represented.
“I believed there was a need to fill that void by creating a space for the voice of deaf people to better represent and authenticate their educational experiences.”
Professor Michael A. Hayes, president of MIC, commended Dr O’Connell’s research, saying that it “will play a major part in progressing our understanding of deaf education and culture, both within and outside deaf communities, and enrich all of our lives in an increasingly diverse world.”
Another recently conferred PhD student, Dr Dearbhla McCarthy, was hailed as a “role model” for successfully completing her doctorate after undertaking the Foundation Certificate at MIC several years ago.
She graduated with a BA in Liberal Arts in 2008 with a college medal for achieving first place on the programme and subsequently completed a research Masters and PhD in English Literature.
Dr McCarthy said of her achievement: “This turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done as it really prepared me for full-time study, provided experience of a variety of academic subjects and gave me a chance to get to know people.
“I was surprised how difficult I sometimes found it to believe in my own ability, but there was always someone to talk to, especially my colleagues, who were returning to education too.”
Prof Michael Breen, Dean of Arts at MIC, described her as “a role model for future students who will want to emulate her success at the highest level.”
Seven MIC students were presented with awards for Outstanding Achievement, including Clare All-Ireland winning hurlers John Conlon and Colm Galvin.
Picture: Kathleen Hogan, Limerick, marks the fourth generation in her family to graduate from the Mary Immaculate College. She is pictured with her mother Una Keane, who graduated in 1982, and grandmother Pauline Nugent, who graduated in 1944, in front of a photograph of Pauline’s aunt Theresa Roughan who was one of the college’s first graduates in 1902.