2012 Alumni Achievement Awards

Outstanding achievers in the arts, business, medicine and volunteering sector were honoured by UCC at the 2012 UCC Alumni Achievement Awards. The distinguished UCC graduates honoured were: Arts graduate Leanne O’ Sullivan; Law graduate Aisling Foley; Medical graduate Dr. Frank Golden; Dairy and Food Science graduate, Dan MacSweeney,with the Alumnus Award for Voluntary Service to UCC going to Cork couple Mary Jane and Dr. Dick Kenefick.

Arts graduate, Leanne O’Sullivan is a poet from the Beara peninsula who has made a very considerable reputation for herself, despite her youth. Leanne has published two collections of poetry, Waiting for my Clothes (2004) when she was still an undergraduate student at UCC, and Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (2009). Her third collection The Mining Road is due out next year. Her poetry has been acclaimed for the extraordinary power of its language and the maturity of vision and she has won many prestigious international poetry awards.

Law graduate, Aisling Foley from Cork city was honoured for her volunteering work with Home of Hope Charity in Cape Town. After graduation, Aisling took the conventional route and worked as a solicitor for many years specialising in commercial law, but her true passion was the developing world and helping those less fortunate. Aisling’s initial work with Home of Hope was with children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) - a condition associated with high levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy which is prevalent in South Africa. FAS symptoms include psychological and behavioural issues which mean that children with the condition struggle in a mainstream educational environment. In 2010, the charity established Amathemba School for Children with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) - the first of its kind in South Africa - with Aisling as project manager. In one academic year, Amathemba has produced remarkable results and the hope is that enrolment figures will grow even further.

Medical graduate, Dr Frank Golden was honoured for his distinguished work in saving lives by providing a better understanding of the body’s response to the various threats associated with survival at sea. Dr Golden is a physiologist who spent thirty years with the British Royal Navy in a series of senior postings, culminating in his appointment as Surgeon Rear Admiral, Support Medical Services. Dr Golden has published over 70 research articles for medical and scientific journals and has co-edited Essentials of Sea Survival in 2002 which has come to be recognised internationally as the definitive guide to survival at sea.

Dairy and food science graduate, Dan MacSweeney is Chief Executive of Carbery Group and was honoured as one of the most outstanding leaders in the agri-food sector in Ireland. Carbery Group is headquartered in Ballineen, County Cork and is owned by four co-ops. Under Dan’s leadership, Carbery grew from being primarily a local milk processing business in the late eighties to an international food and ingredients, flavours and cheese manufacturer. Carbery now has over 500 employees, and manufacturing facilities around the globe. The Group is at the forefront of innovation, with a strong focus on research and development. Dan is a Director of the Irish Dairy Board and has served as a member of the Board of Teagasc among many national leadership roles.

To acknowledge the great support and loyalty of UCC alumni to the University, an Alumnus Award for Voluntary Service to UCC was introduced in 2010. This year’s award was presented to Cork couple Mary Jane and Dr Dick Kenefick who have made a remarkable contribution to Ladies’ Hockey and UCC Rugby Club. Dr Dick Kenefick has been involved with UCC Rugby Club for over a quarter of a century and has held many senior positions in UCC Rugby Club, including Club President. He has been at the forefront improving structures within the Club and worked tirelessly to establish the UCC Rugby Academy to address the challenges of the ‘professional club’. He has looked after the injured players at his surgery, at no charge and established the successful annual UCC RFC Sports Medicine Conference . Mary Jane Kenefick is President of UCC Ladies Hockey Club for the past five years and has also been an active member of the Munster Schoolgirls’ Council since 1996 as well as coaching a number of school teams. She has coached, nurtured and mentored players at all levels and abilities. Under her stewardship the Club has had many successes at intervarsity level, with five UCC players having gone on to play for Ireland.

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