MUT: What made you decide to study at Maynooth?
NH: Well, I was terrified of going to College, always was. It was scary but I decided I didn’t want to go near the sea, I was even more scared of Dublin, so I wanted somewhere small and Maynooth seemed extra friendly. It’s a small friendly community but with the buzz of the city, I just felt that Maynooth was so lovely and beautiful and I just said Maynooth was the place for me. Not too far away from home but far enough that I could move out here.
MUT: Describe your experiences as a Fresher.
NH: First Year – it was amazing. I was so nervous coming in I didn’t know anyone, I remember coming in to my first orientation talk, here in the Students Union and Mall Callan’s speech blew me away. I’ll never forget Mal Callan’s speech. Another thing in orientation was my Leader, Alan, I can still remember his name, and he was outstanding, amazing. I always remember him. I actually met him the other day and I was, like, “you were at my Orientation in First Year” and he was, like, “Wow! How do you remember me?” I can remember a few people who were so memorable in my first few days, but First Year overall was brilliant and I made so many new friends. Meeting different types of people, which I wouldn’t see at home, where I’m from. I got to know different things and take part in different societies and being part of Student’s Union, just loved it. It was amazing. I got to study English and Geography which I loved. I love English and Lecturers that were mind blowing.
MUT: Why did you run for VP for Education?
NH: Education, because I always knew from First Year that I wanted to run for the Student’s Union, especially for Education because, over my three years, I had issues, when it came to not knowing compensation rules, plagiarism and how to change modules. I didn’t know where to go to find the answers to these questions, so I thought I would come in, set up a system to make it easier for students, that’s what interested me to go for Education because of my own issues which I had as a student for three years in college.
MUT: What are your plans for the year ahead?
NH: Education-wise, as I said at the start, my problem was trying to find any information. I’m starting to do, as my main thing for my manifesto, academic advisory. At the moment I’m running a campaign with Karen [Welfare Officer], to train in students to be able to answer questions from students, when they’re looking for information on their educational needs, a kind of referral service so they’ll be trained in that as well and safe talk. We’re doing Education campaigns with Karen, we don’t have the name for it yet, but just before exams come up, we’re going to do a handing out for your assignments, to give student resources, timetables, just little things to make sure they get them in on time. The week before your exams is the time that all your assignments are actively due and that’s a lot stressful for me. They’re all due, students trying to get them in at the same time. We want to de-stress for exams which we do every year (campaign). I will be training class reps, with a new class rep system and that’s ready to go now. Just get them elected and do a bit of training to go with them. There are grade fairs, and that’s starting to get ready for that now, loads more campaigns I hope to get out during the year.
MUT: How has Maynooth shaped you?
NH: Personally it has changed me, I came from a very small village and the people were very old fashioned, where I am from. When it came to Maynooth, it was such a shock, a place to meet all those different kinds of people. Different people you’d never see at home, so meeting these people in Maynooth broadened my mind and in a brilliant way. I see such different types of personality in people and It’s great.
MUT: Describe yourself in five words.
NH: Funny, I think, five words [laughs], approachable, I hope, in an Education Officer. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet
(MUT suggests “modest”)
Yes! Yeah! Modest! fun, entertaining, they’re all kinds of fun (laughs shaking head).
You can contact Niamh by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by the Education Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Niamh-Halpenny-Vice-President-Education-1722631838004813/?fref=ts