Irish Network New Orleans (IN-NOLA), a chapter of Irish Network USA (INUSA), announced recently that local high school students Helene Lovette and Holly Smith were this year’s winners of IN-NOLA’s annual scholarship contest. Selected from a field of more than 20 applicants, Helene and and Holly will now attend University College Dublin’s (UCD) High School Summer Program free of charge. Funds for the scholarship were raised by IN-NOLA members through membership funds and various events held throughout the year. The scholarship includes full tuition, travel and accommodation.
“We are so proud to be able to offer these two outstanding young students an opportunity to travel to and study in Ireland as part of this exclusive program this summer,” stated Adrian D’Arcy, President, Irish Network New Orleans. “Since launching Irish Network New Orleans in 2011 it has been our mission to strengthen the connections between the City we have chosen to live in and raise families with the place that we all will always call ‘home’. We believe in using the power of education to help accomplish this and are grateful to all who participated in its success.”
Dr. Laura Kelley, Chair of the Scholarship Committee, commended all of the students that participated in this year’s contest and noted that “the ability of Helene and Holly to so eloquently connect the events surrounding the Irish Famine and the much more recent and local disaster of Hurricane Katrina with the strength of community really moved the scholarship committee. We look forward to hearing how their experience in Dublin this summer shapes their outlook on the communities around them.”
This year’s scholarship contest was opened up to high school juniors from throughout New Orleans with applications coming from a diverse range of students. In response to the City of New Orleans being selected by the Irish Government to host the 2014 International Famine Commemoration applicants were given the theme “The Great Famine and Hurricane Katrina, How Disaster Defines Us” and asked to consider the similarities and differences between these two events, consider the survival strategies employed by these communities and to consider how these disasters defined both places. Essays had to be 500 to 1000 words in length.
“Through this contest and scholarship award made possible by an all-volunteer organization, Irish Network New Orleans is showing that they are part of the very best the Irish Diaspora has to offer,” stated Deirdre Woodbyrne, Executive Director, Irish Network USA. “As we look forward towards IN NOLA has done as a guide to the sort of impact our chapters can make in their local communities as first annual conference later this year, and the launch of our 18th and 19th Irish Network USA is the national umbrella organization integrating the Irish networks that exist in various cities across the United States. Currently, Irish Network chapters can be found in Seattle, Bay Area (California), San Diego, Nevada, Phoenix, Colorado, Austin, New Orleans, Chicago, Minnesota, Cleveland, Washington DC, Delaware, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York City, Delaware and Boston. An 18th and 19th chapter will be launched later this year in Buffalo, NY and Houston, TX.
About the winners:
Helene attends Lusher Charter School. She loves creative writing and science and is interested in establishing cross-cultural connections with teens from different backgrounds. She makes these connections locally with through art by serving on a board of high schoolers to create arts opportunities for a diverse group of New Orleans teens, and internationally by skyping Jordanian students about cultural perspectives on climate change. She can't wait to learn about Irish culture this summer!
Holly is a junior at Metairie Park Country Day School. She runs cross country, track, and plays a little bit of soccer. Holly is the editor of the school magazine, Eh, La-Bas!, an inductee of Country Day's first National Honor Society Chapter, and has participated in two of Country Day's exchange programs: one to Paris, France and the other to Cape Town and Bulungula, South Africa. Over the summer Holly has worked at Mr. Fish Swim School where she teaches young children swimming. Holly's interests include reading, movies, and hanging out with her friends.