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BSc Neuroscience News and Events

Congratulations BSc Neuroscience Class 2022, celebrating graduation with former classmate Lauren Barrett

9 Nov 2022
BSc Neuroscience graduates 2022 from back left ●Cara O'Dwyer, Jolie Morisho, Robert Mulhall, Leah Kelleher, Rachel Callanan ●Emeka Mapoma, Saoirse Casey, Rebekah Bevans, with former classmate Lauren Barrett, Hugo Blair, Lia O'Brien ● Sean Whelan, Aoife Dwyer, Nathan Carey, Oran McNamara

Congratulations to the BSc Neuroscience class of 2022 who celebrated their BSc Neuroscience graduation on Friday 28th October 2022. The class took time from their celebrations to pose for a photograph with their former classmate Lauren Barrett.

The BSc Neuroscience class of 2022 was in the second semester of second year CK402 Biological and Chemical Sciences degree and members of a class of over 100 students when Covid-19 caused the University to move online in March 2020. Having completed the academic year online and successfully achieved a place for their final two years in the BSc Neuroscience degree, the students joined the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and met each other as a class for the first time online in September 2020.

Dr Siobhain O’Mahony, Director of the BSc Neuroscience degree and Dr André Toulouse third year BSc Neuroscience course coordinator, set to work online to welcome the students as a group and ensure that the students got to know each other and that all would be supported in the challenging online academic year ahead-despite Covid-19 restrictions. The return to campus in September 2021 allowed the students to finally interact with each other as a class and settle into the final year of their degree.

Photo: Dr Siobhain O’Mahony, Director BSc Neuroscience degree

The successful completion of their BSc degrees in addition to having overcome the uncertainties and difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was celebrated by the staff and students at the College of Medicine and Health Conferring ceremony on Friday 28th of October 2022 when the class BSc Neuroscience class of 2022 were conferred with their BSc Neuroscience degrees.

Photo from back left ●Cara O'Dwyer, Jolie Morisho, Robert Mulhall, Leah Kelleher, Rachel Callanan ●Emeka Mapoma, Sean Whelan, Rebekah Bevans, Hugo Blair, Aoife Dwyer Lia O'Brien ●Saoirse Casey, Dr Rebecca Henry, Professor Aideen Sullivan Head of Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, Dr Siobhain O’Mahony Director BSc Neuroscience, Nathan Carey, Oran McNamara.

UCC President John O’Halloran congratulated the students on their achievements, and recognizing the effect of the pandemic commented how it ‘has affected all of us’, 'but it came at a particularly formative time in your lives and there is no doubt that it has been an extremely difficult time to have been a student, but you have responded extraordinarily well'  'We have come through a period in our 177-year history that we could never have imagined nor would we ever have chosen and you have shown extraordinary commitment to learning, resilience, passion and drive to complete your studies, we salute and we admire you.'

For one student Lauren Barrett Covid-19 was not to be her only hurdle to completing her BSc Neuroscience; Lauren’s journey was to take an even more difficult route.

Lauren Barrett from Tralee Co Kerry was originally a member of the class who just graduated on 28th October 2022 and is currently a final year BSc Neuroscience student, in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience.  In April 2021 when Lauren was busy with her third year BSc Neuroscience studies online during the severe Covid-19 lockdown she found a lump in her left breast.

Immediately seeking medical advice, Lauren continued with her studies and sat her third-year exams while awaiting a medical appointment. When Lauren was finally assessed she was deemed ‘not an urgent case’. Not happy with this diagnosis Lauren sought a private consultation and in early June 2021 she received a diagnosis of Stage 3 triple negative breast cancer, and also the diagnosis of having a BRAC1 gene mutation. Lauren says that this news came as huge shock to herself and her family.

Photo: Lauren Barrett 'in the pink' celebrating with her former classmates 

Due to the severity of her condition and the risks associated with the Covid-19 Pandemic, Lauren was advised to take a leave of absence from her studies and to focus on her treatment. Lauren says the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience staff were very understanding and helpful to Lauren in organizing the deferral of her studies and ‘organised everything for me.’ Lauren described how she ‘stayed connected with the department throughout the course of my treatments, and regularly visited to sit in on presentations, and to chat with Dr Siobhain O’Mahony and Dr André Toulouse’ who Lauren thanked as wonderful supports to her. 

Laurens’s treatment included countless scans and tests, a gruelling 20 weeks of chemotherapy, two surgeries, and 15 sessions of radiation therapy. Having bravely endured all of this with the added complication of Covid 19 Lauren was declared in remission in March 2022. She recommenced her BSc Neuroscience studies in September 2022. Lauren describes how she is ‘delighted to be back this year to complete my final year with my new class group who have all been so welcoming. I am delighted to be back in lectures and labs and have even returned to the UCC ladies football team!’

Even though she did not graduate with her class on the 28th of October 2022 Lauren was delighted when Dr Siobhain O’Mahony and her ‘original’ classmates organised that they would all gather together with her for a class photograph on their graduation day. Lauren dressed in pink and joined with her classmates to celebrate their friendship and to thank them for their tremendous support through her recovery.

Photo from back left: ●Cara O'Dwyer, Jolie Morisho, Robert Mulhall, Leah Kelleher, Rachel Callanan. ●Emeka Mapoma, Sean Whelan, Rebekah Bevans, Hugo Blair, Aoife Dwyer Lia O'Brien. ●Dr Rebecca Henry, Saoirse Casey, Dr Siobhain O’Mahony, Director BSc Neuroscience, Lauren Barrett, Nathan Carey, Oran McNamara and Professor Aideen Sullivan, Head of Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience.

Having been through her cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment Lauren is very encouraging to all to be proactive about their health ‘ Although my case may be an outlier, I would strongly recommend that all students and staff perform regular self-checks to have a confident understanding of their own body. It is so important to know what is normal for you, individually, so that if something does show up, you can contact a doctor and fight for yourself and your own health. Luckily, I had been doing some self-checks and for me, it most definitely saved my life. I knew that this lump had not been there before and this knowledge gave me the strength to push until I got the answers I needed.

Early detection saves lives, I am living and breathing proof of that, so please do not take your life for granted. Nothing is promised but everything is so precious.’

Lauren is now looking forward to completing her BSc Neuroscience and graduating with her new class group in 2023.


News item and photographs B.Riedewald



Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience

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