Alumni Spotlight

Leah Waldron - Medical Social Worker

11 Jun 2020
Leah Waldron, BSW 2019

After recovering from a traumatic brain injury in her early twenties, Leah Waldron was inspired to pursue a career in social work to help others overcome challenging life experiences. 

However, midway through her degree at UCC, she suffered another substantial blow to her health after contracting meningitis and sustaining a second head injury. Fortunately, Leah made a successful recovery and after graduation, secured a role as a medical social worker at Cork University Hospital. We caught up with Leah to talk perseverance, influences and starting her career during a global pandemic.

  • Course/subjects studied in UCC and year of graduation:  

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW Hons) – I graduated in 2019 with first-class honours and two academic scholarships. 

  • What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?  

The entire Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) faculty was fantastic overallThe BSW lecturerhad a particularly positive impact on me and they have really inspired me to consider pursuing a future career in lecturing. My fellow classmates were also a hugely positive influence throughout my four years at UCC. There was great support and camaraderie within our group and being a Donegal native, this made UCC a 'home away from home' for me.  

  • What challenges did you face while studying at UCC? 

Being unable to make the long journey home during the academic years was challenging at times, however, in retrospect, the extra weekends spent in the library paid off in the end. Unfortunately, I also experienced ill health during the latter half of my degree which significantly impacted on my physical and emotional health and almost  jeopardised my studies. Thankfully, due to ongoing support from the university and my fellow classmates, along with my own determination, I managed to persevere, while juggling a strenuous recovery back to health, throughout my final year.

  • How did your time at UCC help you get to where you are now?

Studying at UCC equipped me with an equal blend of theoretical and practical expertise which ensured a smooth transition from student to professional. I graduated from the university having gained an internationally recognised professional qualification, a myriad of soft skills and confidence in my professional abilities.

  • What is your advice to current UCC students?

Work hard, have fun and stay true to yourself!

  • Were you involved in any clubs or societies at UCC?

I was selected to join the Quercus Talented Students Programme during my degree. The scholarship programme provided weekly access to a variety of exclusive academic and professional masterclasses. I was also involved in several sport and fitness activities at UCC’s Mardyke Health and Leisure Arena.

  • What did it feel like to begin your career during a global pandemic?

Since graduating, I have secured a professional role as a medical social worker in one of Ireland’s largest and busiest hospitals. Needless to say, commencing my career during a global pandemic is certainly an extraordinary and challenging introduction to the frontline. However, it is one which also comes with a great sense of patriotism. Having overcome significant health issues myself, I feel extremely privileged to now be in a position to help other individuals who are affected by ill health and psychosocial adversity.

 

For more on this story contact:

Patricia Finucane: p.finucane@ucc.ie

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