Quercus University Scholar and Children's & General Nursing student, Marieke Buckley: It is difficult to fully express the impact obtaining the Quercus University Academic Scholarship has had on me, the magnitude of the scholarship, and the avenues of opportunity that it has provided. I think back to 2019 when I had the opportunity to attend the Quercus Lecture Series as a college scholar which where hugely influential; I was in awe of the Quercus programme; the achievements and demonstrations of leadership and advocacy shown by those in receipt. Those lectures allowed me to dream about the possibility of becoming a scholarship student, I aspired to be like the individuals delivering these lectures, and the scholars on the programme, and wondered if I too could inspire, inflict change and impact the future in some way. Never did I think I would actually be able to achieve a scholarship like this, I often still have to pinch myself! I am so grateful for this opportunity and for the incredible two years I have had so far on the scholarship programme. This year the programme via life coaching, via mentoring from the Quercus managers and team, and via formation of connections and friendships with fellow scholars, has facilitated huge personal growth and development. Firstly, the scholarship has allowed me to devote myself entirely to my academic discipline so that I may achieve my very best, via fantastic financial support, support from tutors and networking opportunities. I have had the opportunity to work with an academic mentor; one of the aspects of the programme I value most- I have received excellent advice and mentorship which is allowing me to achieve the most I can in terms of results, my studies and has opened my eyes to new study opportunities such as research, as well as provided invaluable advice regarding time management, research applications and study planning. Quercus has also facilitated personal development in many ways; previously I would have been more introverted, shying away from public speaking, however the scholarship has provided fantastic experiences which have challenged me to complete many interviews, videos, televised pieces, speeches and presentations. I have also been provided with the unique opportunity to work with a life-coach; an invaluable aspect of the scholarship that has facilitated significant skill, mindset and personal growth. The Quercus programme has helped me to develop self-belief, trust and confidence in myself and my abilities, has further fuelled my passion for the area I am studying, and has facilitated wider thinking about my life goals and the impact I wish to make in my discipline and on those around me. This year I have realised the significance of this statement put to us by Professor John O’ Halloran; ‘…with talent comes responsibility’. I realise the opportunity I have been given as the first nursing student to ever achieve this scholarship, and I do not take this lightly. I see how proud it has made my family and peers, my lecturers and those in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, and this instils a passion to do my very best and to continue to achieve in the field of nursing and academia. The scholarship has allowed me to embrace my role as a leader and advocate, fuelling me to bring about change in nursing education and healthcare systems, however small. Eventually I hope to be a leader in the Irish healthcare setting, and shape and influence policies and structures for better patient outcomes and for the improved mental health and wellbeing of nurses caring for patients. Furthermore, meeting with and establishing relationships/friendships with other scholars has facilitated wider thinking, discussions about future endeavours and plans, and networking opportunities. It is a privilege to be in the programme with such esteemed colleagues; it has been inspiring and eye-opening to spend time with them. From this pool of opportunities connected with Quercus, and from the mentorship I have received, I am now dreaming bigger and considering career paths and opportunities that I previously thought I was not able for, such as advanced nurse practitioner or research roles, and medicine. I am so proud to be a Quercus scholar, it is an indescribable honour!