NCBI Gerard Byrne Bursary 2019 recipients have been announced

NCBI Bursary presentation to Sean O’Riordan l-r CEO Chris White, Sean, Minster Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD and Mother of Sean

NCBI is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2019 Gerard Byrne Bursary, presented by Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD.

Speaking at the presentation at NCBI’s head office in Whitworth Road, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said “The importance of accessible education cannot be stressed enough; the Gerard Byrne Bursary is especially important given the low numbers of students with visual impairment studying in higher education. I commend NCBI for having this bursary in place which seeks to financially support greater numbers of blind and vision impaired students in offsetting their educational costs and by giving them greater opportunity to reach their true potential.”

Within Ireland’s further education, blind and vision-impaired people now make up just 1.8% of students with disabilities and represent the smallest single grouping of students with disabilities studying at third level (AHEAD, 2018).

In reviewing the longer-term trends, the growth rate of blind and visually impaired students in higher education has remained three times slower than that of the general disabled student population over the last five years.

The NCBI Gerard Byrne Bursary honours the contribution of Gerard Byrne, who was a lifelong advocate for education. The Bursary consists of two annual grants for undergraduate students only, with confirmed visual impairment or blindness, studying on a full-time basis at a recognised educational institution in the Republic of Ireland only.

The value of each scholarship is set at €1,500 per year they are in education and continues for the duration of the undergraduate programme chosen by the Bursary winner.

NCBI also offer a 6-month internship to one Bursary award winner per year, if appropriate to their area of study. CEO Chris White said: “The NCBI are delighted to offer this opportunity this year to three students with visual impairments, 2019 saw another year of high-quality applicants making the choosing the recipients difficult.”

He went on to say “The bursary highlights the wealth of talent in the people of Ireland but more importantly the talent in the sight loss community. These are outstanding students who have overcome their disability and let their talent shine through.”

The recipients this year are:

Maria Vitoria Alves De Oliveira, Vitoria was born in Brazil and has been blind since birth. This year, Vitoria is excited as she hopes to move from her home in Roscommon to study a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, Psychology and International Development at Maynooth University.

Sean O’Riordan, Sean is a second-year Speech and Language Therapy Student studying at UCC. Also, a member of the Irish Paralympic Swim Team Sean has competed with the team for the past three years.

Niamh Kavanagh. Niamh is a fourth-year Bachelor of Arts in Global Business (France), studying at DCU and Neoma Business School, France. Niamh has recently completed a six-month internship in international business development in Luxembourg, after completing an internship in the Central Bank of Ireland in 2017.

NCBI Bursary presentation Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD, Maria Vitoria Alves De Oliveira, Sean O’Riordan, NCBI staff and their families NCBI Bursary presentation to Maria Vitoria Alves De Oliveira l-r CEO Chris White, Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Victoria and her Father. NCBI Bursary presentation to Sean O’Riordan l-r CEO Chris White, Sean, Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD and Mother of Sean.

For further information, please contact June Tinsley, Head of Communications on 01 8821917 or 087 9955076