Three Tallaght students have been awarded educational scholarships through a community-based initiative organised by An Cosán community education centre in Jobstown and sponsored by Sherry FitzGerald estate agents. The students, who successfully completed their Leaving Certificate exams this summer and are now settling into third level education, were presented with the FitzGerald Family Scholarship Awards at a special ceremony held recently in An Cosán.
Festos Okoh, Chloe Geoghegan and Matthew Hanley were presented with their awards by Ciara FitzGerald, granddaughter of the late Garret and Joan FitzGerald. They were joined at the celebration by proud family members and representatives of the students’ former schools. Also in attendance were Will Moore, Regional Director, and Dealbha Prendergast, HR Director, of Sherry FitzGerald. An Cosán set up the scholarship (originally known as the Joan FitzGerald Award) in 2004 in memory of Joan FitzGerald, wife of the late Dr Garret FitzGerald, former Taoiseach of Ireland. The award scheme strives to break down barriers, creating equal access opportunities to third-level education.
Festos Okoh, who attended Killinarden Community School, is now pursuing a Level 8 degree in Mechanical Engineering in Technological University Dublin Tallaght. Festos was nominated for the award by his former school in acknowledgement of how “hard-working and committed to his studies” he was during his second level career and how he went out of his way to support his fellow students, including organising after-school study sessions. Festos is the eldest of a family of seven and says the scholarship will take the financial burden off his family by enabling him to purchase a laptop and other equipment he will need for the course. Coincidentally, Festos attended An Cosán’s early years’ service as a young child while his mother engaged in various An Cosán programmes.
Chloe Geoghegan, who attended St Aidan’s Community School, Brookfield, was nominated for the award by her former school in recognition of how “hard-working, self-motivated and diligent” she was in her approach to her studies. Also, because she was an excellent role model for younger students, especially in the responsible and enthusiastic manner in which she carried out the role of first year peer mentor. Chloe, who gave 100% to the programmes in which she participated after being selected for the ACE Programme in conjunction with TU Tallaght and the UCD Future You Mentoring Programme, is now studying Business in the National College of Ireland. She says the scholarship will enable her to purchase a laptop and books that she will need for her course.
Matthew Hanley, who has just started studying Computer Science and Software Engineering at Maynooth University, was selected for the award by his former school, St Mark’s Community School, Tallaght, because he was “a huge asset” to the school during his time there. He was a hardworking and unassuming young man. Matthew has a long daily commute from Tallaght to Maynooth and the scholarship will take the financial burden off his family by helping him with transport costs and purchasing materials needed for his course.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, An Cosán’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Anne Genockey, said, “The co- founders of An Cosán, Drs Ann Louise Gilligan and Katherine Zappone, had the privilege of knowing Joan in her later years and described her as an inspiration to their work in West Tallaght. They spoke of the many conversations they had with Joan about life, learning, family, women and theology, and how her comments and questions were always filled with insight and challenge.
“Joan’s love of learning and her passion for justice were the seedbed of her extraordinary wisdom. Joan was committed to the advancement and empowerment of women and to an Irish society characterised by justice. “In 2004, to honour Joan and to keep the memory of her spirit alive, An Cosán initiated the Joan FitzGerald Award. Over the past 18 years this award has been presented to local students, who were nominated by their schools, and going on to study at third level institutes. The awards, which are now funded by Sherry FitzGerald were at first presented by the late Dr Garret FitzGerald and, after he passed away in 2011, by one of his three children – John, Mary or Mark – and, more recently, by one of his grandchildren.”
Ciara FitzGerald said it was a privilege to present the scholarships to three such deserving students. “They should all be very proud of themselves and I wish them every success in the future,” she said. “I am here as a granddaughter of Joan FitzGerald to present this award in her name. To tell you a little about my grandmother, she got involved in An Cosán with Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan. It probably struck a chord with her as she was raised by a single mother without a career and, only by the generosity of an aunt, was she able to go to third level education. She really understood what a privilege that was and wanted to help others achieve the same.”
An Cosán offers a wide range of services, including adult community education courses from basic to BA degree level, Early Years’ education and care, parenting support and counselling. To find out more, see www.ancosan.ie
Pictured: Pictured at the FitzGerald Scholarship Awards ceremony in An Cosán are from left: Ciara FitzGerald, granddaughter of the late Dr Garret and Joan FitzGerald; awardees Matthew Hanley and Chloe Geoghan; Dealbha Prendergast, HR Director, Sherry FitzGerald; Will Moore, Regional Director, Sherry FitzGerald; Imelda Hanratty, Outreach Coordinator, An Cosán; Anne Genockey, Deputy CEO, An Cosán; and awardee Festos Oskoh.