My Experience with the President’s Volunteer Award

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I have been a student in UL since 2008, and have been volunteering with various student societies and with the SU since 2011. This year, however, I was a recipient of the President’s Volunteer Award for the first time.

The PVA is divided up into a number of categories, based on the number of hours spent volunteering and whether or not the volunteer was in UL for the full academic year. I was a recipient of the Gold PVA, which is for volunteering for 60 hours in the academic year. Gold is the highest you can go in terms of number of hours, but I can tell you I did a lot more than 60 hours that year!

The majority of my volunteering was split between ULFM and UL Science Society (I may be a history student, but I can design posters like nobody’s business). In ULFM, I spent the year co-hosting Crossing The Line, the station’s main current affairs show. Crossing The Line was shortlisted for an Oxygen.ie Student Media Award last April, and my co-host Rob and I got to travel to Dublin for a ceremony in the Aviva Stadium featuring journalists and writers such as Paul Howard A.K.A. Ross O’Carroll-Kelly. I was also involved in the committee for the year, helping to bring ULFM through a transitional period as we geared up to improve the studio and expand our activities. A promotional poster I designed for a Science Soc event was sent to the Board of Irish College Societies awards as UL’s entry for Best Poster. I also lent a helping hand to the Feminist Society and the Tea Appreciation Society.

Volunteering, for me, is about having fun while making a difference. I love getting to contribute to the campus community, and I focus on doing things that I’m passionate about. The journalistic and administrative experience I have gotten during my time in ULFM has been incredible, and as I type this I’m preparing to go into the Bank of Ireland to pitch for financial aid from their Enablement Fund in order to refurbish and improve our broadcasting studio.

The President’s Volunteer Award is a brilliant initiative, giving recognition to UL students in all faculties and at all levels for the contributions they make to the campus and wider Limerick communities. This year’s awards ceremony was the first time UL’s new President Dr Des Fitzgerald had been presenting the awards, and it was gratifying to see how impressed he was by the scale and scope of student volunteering and how much emphasis he placed on the further expansion of the volunteering initiatives on campus. After all, student volunteering can go on to have ripple-effect impacts beyond the limits of the volunteering itself. My volunteering as AHSS Rep and Faculties Rep for the Postgraduate Students’ Union led to me successfully running for Vice-President of the PSU. Closer to home in terms of this article, the history of the First Seven Weeks initiative is full of people from volunteering backgrounds. I wasn’t even the only familiar face from the HUB receiving a PVA this year; our Coordinator Lorna was also on stage getting a certificate from the President. The work that student volunteers do not only lays the groundwork for their future careers, but also contributes to the growth and development of the UL community.

By Declan Mills: F7W HUB Staff Member, outgoing Vice-President of ULPSU, President of ULFM and PhD candidate in history

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