Community: Introducing new Students' Union President, Quercus Scholar Alan Hayes
"Once I commit to something, I give it everything"
(Photos: Mike Hannon)
Facing into his final year exams and thesis submission, and with another three months to go before officially taking up his new role, it speaks volumes about incoming Students' Union President Alan Hayes’ dedication that he is already working to deliver on his election promises.
Supporting the improvement of mental health services for UCC students was at the centre of Alan’s campaign, and he has already started the dialogue on how the 2018/2019 Students' Union can meaningfully contribute in this area.
“Once I commit to something, I give it everything,” says Alan, who previously volunteered with NiteLine, UCC’s listening service for students.
“I have a team who really want to get things done, and I’m delighted with them. I think I can have a big impact on the university, and I’m really excited for the year to come.”
The university community should be excited too, as Social Science student Alan brings a wealth of experience to his new role.
A Quercus Active Citizenship Scholar, Kilkenny native Alan is a director of The Thomas Hayes Trust. The organisation supports those affected by suicide, or contemplating suicide, with free counselling and therapy provided through Teach Tom.
The Trust was set up by Alan, his mother Angela, and his siblings following the tragic passing of his father, Tommy, and his brother, Thomas.
Considering the impact that The Thomas Hayes Trust is having in his local community, it’s clear to see why mental health is so close to Alan’s heart – and why it was such a key motivator in his presidential run.
“We have two premises open, and we have about 70 people a week coming in, availing of free counselling,” Alan explains.
“That flabbergasted me, really. All I can think is, where would these people go if we weren’t there?”
"I think I can have a big impact on the university, and I’m really excited for the year to come.”
From his hopes of expanding Teach Tom’s play therapy children’s service, to his enthusiasm for making a positive impact on students’ lives, it’s clear that Alan cares deeply about helping people. He also loves UCC – a fact which can be credited, in part, to his experience with the Quercus Talented Students’ Programme.
“It’s just such a special programme – it’s not like any other,” says Alan. “And UCC is the only university that offers an Active Citizenship scholarship.”
“I really think I wouldn’t be where I am today if I wasn’t on Quercus. I’d say my life would be completely different, so I think it’s just an amazing programme.”
Despite taking on such important responsibilities, Alan is remarkably level-headed in his outlook on his work.
“They don’t feel like massive responsibilities – probably because it’s work that I just want to do,” he explains.
“If someone else was doing it, I’d be looking at them, saying, ‘I’d really love to be doing that!’”
Alan is all-too aware of the need for balance, however. A talented musician (a passion instilled by his late father) and keen sportsman, Alan will pick up the guitar or enjoy a game of squash or soccer when he needs to take some time out.
While Alan has some very definite goals in place for his presidency, he’s excited to explore all options when it comes to life post-university.
“I’m certain that I want to work with people, and I want to work maybe in the psychological field. I was looking at doing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or even Social Care,” he says.
“I know I’ll be working with people – I don’t know in what form, but I’ll be working in whatever way I can to make a difference.”
For more information about the UCC Students' Union, please follow this link.
Creating together: UCC unveils unique partnership with Cork Opera House
Ready for their close-up! (Photo: Clare Keogh)
University College Cork has unveiled an exciting new partnership with Cork Opera House.
This partnership will be rooted in creative collaboration with the university’s School of Music and Theatre, with the aim of turning the Opera House into a ‘learning theatre’.
“This is a first in Ireland, certainly,” says Professor Jools Gilson, Head of the UCC School of Music and Theatre.
“In terms of the form of collaboration, it’s really original and distinctive.”
Professor Gilson has worked closely with Eibhlín Gleeson, CEO of Cork Opera House for the past year to bring the partnership to fruition, and explained the natural affinity at the core of the collaboration.
“What [the School of Music and Theatre] brings to the equation, is the opportunity to critically reflect – thinking about historical contexts, postgraduate teaching, bringing students into the Opera House,” she says.
“And vice-versa, what the Opera House provides us with, is a very sturdy and professional business – and one of the leading theatre, music, opera and dance venues, and production houses in the country.”
"The fact that this is a university collaboration is a hugely significant and positive gesture"
The collaboration will offer a series of exciting programmes for students of UCC’s School of Music and Theatre: a range of internship opportunities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as a PhD scholarship in Opera, along with a new MA in Arts and Cultural Management being rolled out from 2019.
In a cross-institution collaboration, a new Theatre Artist-in-Residence will also join UCC’s already strong line-up of artists-in-residence across Literature, Film and the Traditional Arts.
“The fact that this is a University collaboration is a hugely significant and positive gesture on the part of UCC,” says Professor Gilson.
“It says a great deal about the calibre of the Opera House as an artistic and business context within the city, but it also says a great deal about the commitment of creative practitioners, teachers and learners here at the university.”