UCC EmployAgility Awards Ceremony

5 Apr 2023
R-L: Joel Rajesh, Higher Award: Excellence in Social Responsibility; Professor Stephen Byrne, Deputy President and Registrar; Ava Somers, Higher Award: Employability Star; Kathryn Neville, Director of Recruitment and Admissions; Daniel Falk Higher Award: Leadership; Adel Coleman, Graduate Attributes Programme Manager; Eleanor Donoghue, Head of UCC Career Services.

The UCC EmployAgility Awards programme is a key transition out initiative coordinated through a partnership with the UCC Graduate Attributes Programme and UCC Career Services. This year 223 students achieved an award. 

EmployAgility is defined as being “flexible enough to skill up and manage rapid changes in the workplace.” 

Agile values are now fundamental to how organisations adapt, and as the world of work evolves, the concept of career is radically transforming. Increasingly, modern business demands people with an agile mindset and who are customer-centric, collaborative, and able to network as part of multi-skilled teams. Candidates must have the ability to respond and adapt to ever-changing environments and understanding their development of core graduate attributes and values is key to this success.

The UCC EmployAgility Awards is a professional skills development programme, and demonstrates that students have engaged in, and developed professional skills through extra-curricular activities and work experience, all of which will help them to stand out from the crowd when applying for graduate roles and internships.

Some 220 students from all four UCC Colleges, from first year through to postdoctoral level, dedicated at least 20 hours to a voluntary activity or initiative this year. Their learnings will support them as they continue to transition through, or out of UCC to embark on the next stage of their journey. Whether that be continuing to explore new interests, entering the world of work, or embarking on further study, through their dedication to personal and professional development, they have ensured that they are equipped with key employability skills, core graduate attributes, and well-developed values.

All students can apply for the award through six pathways: Student Life, Volunteering, Entrepreneurship, Internship, Research, or the Open Pathway. To be eligible for the award, they must dedicate a minimum of 20 hours to their chosen activity or initiative and submit a final reflective report. 

In this report, students must reflect on the core attributes and values they developed through their engagement with their chosen initiative. This award does not just support them in becoming work-ready but aims to ensure they are world-ready. Their development of core attributes and values such as digital fluency, independent and creative thinking, social responsibility, and global citizenship, enables them to take an active role in advancing the just and sustainable evolution of our communities, our society, and our local and global economies. Through their development of respect, ambition, compassion, resilience, and integrity, they are empowered to create more value than you consume and become an active citizen in society.

A key aim of the Graduate Attributes Programme, partners in delivering this award, is to ensure our graduates are recognised as well-rounded, curious, self-aware individuals who continually learn new skills, are open to new ideas, and make things happen. We want them to leave UCC with a passion for life long, life wide and life deep learning and the EmployAgility Awards is one of our key initiatives that makes this aim a reality. 

Higher Awards

Each year we present Higher Awards to applicants who have achieved multiple awards through several pathways over the years, and who have demonstrated significance personal and professional growth that will support their future career. This year we presented four awards to students who showed outstanding commitment to voluntary activities on and off campus and who showed the capacity to use their graduate attributes and values to make positive changes in society, to be role models, and make an impact in their communities.


Leadership Award

Daniel Falk, PhD Geology / Palaeontology, College of Science, Engineering and Food Science 

Daniel Falk, this year’s Leadership Award winner has contributed to an outstanding range of initiatives, as a Peer Support Leader and as the School of BEES PhD Postgrad Rep. He voluntarily coordinated a scientific excavation in Germany, with 11 international volunteers to uncover 260-million-year-old animal footprints. He also found time to support his peers through the pandemic and through his work in EDI. Through the Awards Programme, he has demonstrated his capacity to reflect on his experiences, understanding how they enabled him to become an effective leader. His leadership skills, attributes and values have been effectively utilised to implement change. He is an impactful leader. 


Global Citizen Award

Ronan Keohane, World Languages, College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

We want our students to leave this university with personal integrity, values, beliefs, and moral code. Ronan Keohane is an effective global citizen who recognises and challenges inequality, he has strong values, integrity and through living by his moral code, has implemented change. He has been public-relations officer for three different societies (International Relations, Failte Refugees and Korean Soc), a regular contributor for the motley magazine, a weekly radio presenter on UCC fm, published with the Aigne journal and was a project manager for a summer camp in Spain for underprivileged youth. His dedication to student life and his work with marginalised groups exemplifies his dedication to supporting sustainable global development. He recognises that the privileges and opportunities he has been afforded, are not accessible to all and wants to pay forward and contribute to society in any way that he can. 


Excellence in Social Responsibility

Joel Rajesh, Medicine, College of Medicine and Health 

UCC promotes a focus on creating awareness of how individual disciplines and fields of study all play a role in shaping future outcomes: social, health, environmental, and economic. Joel Rajesh, winner of the first ever Social Responsibility Award has displayed the capacity to look at broader issues and potential impacts of his field of practice and understands how his actions can enhance the wellbeing of others to make a valuable and sustainable contribution to society. In his work as SU Officer, he represented voices of some 4000 CoMH students, he was chosen by the National Ambulance Service to be a college CPR instructor, leading and training over 40 students in Ireland’s only student-led ambulance responder group. He has contributed to decision making in this university, as a committee member for UCC Peer Support, the UCC Gaisce Project, and UCC Restart a Heart Day. His leadership on volunteering initiatives in UCC and the broader community is inspiring. He embodies our core graduate attribute: social responsibility. 


Employability Star Award:

Ava Somers, Law LLM, College of Business and Law 

This award was designed to recognise students who stand out in their employability skills development. These skills are the core of what hiring managers wish to see exemplified in new employees. This year’s winner, Ava Somers, has displayed exceptional professional growth. Throughout her time in UCC, as an UG and now a PG, she achieved 15 EmployAgility Awards. She is a journalist, an athlete who fences on behalf of UCC on the national circuit, a Radio Studio Producer, a DJ, a Podcast host. She has fulfilled a range of leadership roles from Vice-Chairperson to Students Union Representative, to Team Captain. Through her strong engagement in student life, she has gained key employability skills, graduate attributes, and values, ranging from digital fluency to leadership. She transitioned into UCC as a somewhat shy individual, but is transitioning out as a leader, with enhanced employability skills- she will make an impact. She is world ready and work ready, and is a true lifelong, life wide and life deep learner. 


Congratulations to all students who participated in the UCC EmployAgility Awards programme. Collectively they have dedicated some 4,400 voluntary hours  to activities that support their personal and professional development, support their community and their peers. 

A students’ identity with a club/society/activity on campus can lead to an increased sense of community and connectedness. That sense of belonging can lead to enhanced friendships and social integration and this in turn can be a key to university success.


For more on this story contact:

Graduate Attributes Programme: 

Graduate Attributes Programme

5, Brighton Villas, (First Floor) Western Road, University College Cork, T12 EC95