Prestigious internship for Lucan’s Sharon

Sharon Hickey from Lucan has been selected onto the Washington Ireland Program (WIP), and flies stateside this month to begin a two-month internship in the Law Library of Congress in Washington DC, and an intensive training course in leadership and service.

The WIP is now in its 16th year, and is designed to give students a rich insight into America’s professional and social culture. With a joint focus on leadership skills and service to the community, this year’s successful applicants will be placed not only in the political arena, but also with cultural institutions, research centres, large companies and entrepreneurial businesses.

A previous winner of an All-Ireland Scholarship, Sharon recently completed her second year of Law with Arts at NUIM. Elected to Dail na nOg and Comhairle, she actively pursues her passion for improving youth facilities in Ireland, and was instrumental in the establishment and success of Megabites, Lucan’s first youth cafe, of which she is President.

Sharon is very excited at the prospect that lies ahead this summer, explaining that “It is a once in a life time opportunity to be interning in Capitol Hill. I will be staying with a host family allowing me real insight into American life and will be working on big charity and political projects in America’s capital city which law students from Dublin can usually only dream about”.

Sharon elaborated on the experience she will gain to The Informer, explaining how she will not only work on government research, but also on her own projects, including research into the gender divide in Ireland’s representative politics, and how this is shaped by the evolution of Irish law. She explained that the WIP is structured in such a way that alumni of the programme support and encourage newer alumni, so that the benefit to the class and their home communities is continuously amplified. “The experience I will get from meeting and talking to some of the world’s most accomplished leaders will undoubtedly help me to transfer this back to my home community in Lucan.”

Sharon is one of thirty students selected from over 270 applicants throughout Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the UK. Megan Farrell, WIP Executive Director, said “this year’s class exemplifies the quality of university students in Northern Ireland and Ireland.” A variety of disciplines including law, media, finance and journalism are represented this year, and so the WIP is a great opportunity for a wide range of young leaders of tomorrow. To follow Sharon’s progress, and to find further details of the WIP and how to apply, please visit www.wiprogram.org.

Cover story of Lucan Informer June 2010

Never lose your education

Of course I did not know it at the time, but when I was born, the youngest of eight children, to a farming family in Meath, I hit the jackpot in a birth lottery taking place each and every day in an increasingly unequal world. So privileged was I, that I regularly experienced the state only the under-worked and over-privileged feel – boredom. From my earliest memories, long before my pathological obsession with tea drew equal with it, I have loved the power of the printed word. I am a self-confessed word junkie – I’m Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Aunt Josephine from Lemony Snickett’s Series of Unfortunate Events, Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Name your cliché of a character who is so engrossed in the universes spun by words, and I am it. Books are not only a portal to knowledge, but a chance to go places in your head – anywhere you want to be, and a good book can take you there. For most of my life I never even questioned that literacy was something special that my circumstances of birth could have denied me. Once I finished my M.A. I realised that, to paraphrase Jane Austen, it is a fact universally acknowledged that a single girl in possession of an arts degree must be in want of a life. Since it has been said that “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page” rather than going someplace in my head I went to China instead.

Working from official statistics, the People’s Republic of China had a literacy rate of 90.8% in the year 2002, with primary school education provided for six years in the state-run public education system. Official statistics often do not show the full reality of a situation however, and the current completion rate of primary education is a little over 78%. Almost 5million students a year fail to complete compulsory education on time. About 1 million children drop out of school each year because of poverty, particularly ethnic minorities and girls – and those girls who remain in education are often the victims of systemic gender discrimination, particularly in rural areas. The poverty of an area as well as the poverty of individual families is an obstacle, with many schools in China lacking the resources to provide more than two to three years of schooling. They are poorly equipped, often providing little more than desks and chairs, and their curricula are severely limited. Notebooks and writing materials, not to mention quality stimulating textbooks, are often prized possessions for the lucky few with access to them.

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