LIMERICK based asylum seeker Anna Kern is one of three local students to receive a scholarship in a scheme backed by JP McManus.
Ms Kern, a 19-year-old who fled war torn Ukraine two years ago, received 575 points in her Leaving Certificate but could not afford to take up her “dream” college place at the Royal College of Surgeons.
The high achieving Colaiste Nano Nagle student was able to take her place studying physiotherapy when the college waived its fees and offered to help her with expenses.
Ms Kern, who lived in direct provision accommodation in Knockalisheen with her mother Lyudmyla, who is not permitted to work and therefore unable to help her daughter with fees, said it was a “dream come true” to be part of the 2015 All Ireland Scholarships.
“I am very grateful to the Minister for Education and to everyone who was involved in my case,” she said at the awards ceremony in UL on Saturday, which were attended by guest of honour, former Champion Jockey AP McCoy.
“I am really enjoying college and studying physiotherapy was a dream come true for me and I hope to work in Ireland after I graduate,” she added.
Maebh Ní Ghuairim from Castletroy and Conor Cregan from Glin were the other Limerick recipients of the award, which is worth €6,750 per year of undergraduate study for the winners.
A total of 125 scholarships were handed out in total by Minister Jan O’Sullivan and her Northern counterpart Dr Stephen Farry.
Mr McCoy said it was “a great honour to be here today with all these students who have worked so hard in making their dreams come true”.
“Each and every one of you should be incredibly proud of your achievements and are proof that if you are willing to be dedicated to something and apply yourself, great things can happen. I wish you all continued success in your lives,” he added.
Mr McManus, who has contributed a total of €30 million in support of the scheme, said the awards “celebrate the success of these young men and women, who today are being recognised for their outstanding academic achievements”.