Sarah McCan - Trocaire’s Country Director for Zimbabwe
Sarah McCan is Trocaire’s Country Director for Zimbabwe. It has been a challenging summer for the Tipperary woman and her team, with a period of unrest after Zimbabwe’s Presidential elections and the swearing in of the country’s third ever President following Mugabe’s 37-year reign. Trocaire’s programmes in Zimbabwe are varied; Sarah and her colleagues focus on everything from human rights issues to working with farmers experiencing drought. She takes some time out to chat to us about her time at UCC.
Course/subjects studied in UCC and year of graduation
Bachelor of Arts –European Studies B ( History & Politics). Graduated in 1995.
Best memory of University College Cork
This is a difficult one as I have so many great memories! Definitely the friends I made who are still some of my best today. I loved the summer months hanging out with friends on campus..including outside the Boole cramming for exams! I also did an Erasmus year in Rennes in France, which was an amazing year!
How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
European Studies was definitely a great foundation for the work I am doing now with Trocaire. I loved studying International relations and politics all of which relates so much to International Development and Aid. I was also part of a moot court in my 3rd year which was a brilliant experience in terms of negotiation skills. I studied French and Spanish as I always wanted to travel, and my first overseas experience was in a Guatemalan refugee camp in Mexico with the UN in the summer of 1999 so all of that helped me get to where I am now.
What is your advice to current UCC students?
Enjoy every minute as college years fly by! Avail of the amazing opportunities that are at your fingertips in college and treasure those friendships!
What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
I have an amazing circle of friends from UCC who were all such positive influences- we all studied diverse things from Music to the Arts to Medicine and Law and most have gone on to be leaders in their field. I definitely learnt the art of critical thinking from John Joe Lee who was my History Professor. I remember he used to get us to read articles from different journals to try and unpack the political angle behind them, it was one of those free-thinking classes that was great.
Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
I was in the European Studies Society and I remember we invited Mary Banotti for a lecture once. As a poor student, the highlight was taking her out to dinner in Jurys at the time! In my first year, I think I joined about 10 clubs from Rowing to Orienteering but didn’t last the pace, particularly with the rowing club!
For more on this story contact:
Sarah McCan, Alumnus of the week, UCC, University College Cork