Alumni News

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Ilpo Hirvonen

Ilpo Hirvonen from the University of Helsinki was a Global Winner in 2016 in the Philosophy category for his paper “On the Interrelation between Phenomenology and Externalism.” He is currently studying for his master’s degree, also at the University of Helsinki. 

After winning in the Philosophy category of The Undergraduate Awards in 2016 with an essay based on his undergraduate thesis, Ilpo’s award was featured extensively in the Finnish press. These articles also gave him an opportunity to further discuss his dedication to the study of philosophy. Speaking to Helsingin Sanomat about how a better understanding of philosophy might improve public discourse, Ilpo, citing the recent US presidential election as an example, said:

Logic, which is one of the fields of philosophy, would be useful for the rationality and argumentation of public rhetoric. For example, often in the social debate, conclusions are drawn without premises.

Ilpo is currently working on his postgraduate thesis at the University of Helsinki. This thesis builds upon ideas explored in his undergraduate work. Ilpo tells us,

I am trying to understand the complex connections between Husserlian phenomenology (a philosophical method and school of thought founded by Edmund Husserl in the early 20th century) and realism (the idea that there is a mind-independent reality), which is something I am most directly addressing in my master’s thesis. I am hoping to broaden my research and eventually take it to the post-graduate level in a PhD program.

In his spare time, Ilpo – a self-described avid film enthusiast – is working to grasp “the essence of the seventh art” in his blog, essence of film, which offers fascinating discussions on cinema from a philosophical approach. We would highly recommend this excellent blog to anyone interested in cinema. Best of luck with your master’s thesis, Ilpo!

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Samantha Gordine

Samantha Grodine from the University of St Andrews was a 2013 Highly Commended Entrant in the Life Sciences category with her paper ‘Extracting drift rates from compressed dive profiles by using a step-wise filtering method’.

Since attending the 2013 UA Global Summit (which she described as “one of the best experiences in my life”), Samantha has been keeping busy. A revised version of her Highly Commended paper was published in the Journal of the Experimental Biology in 2015. The paper also formed the basis of Samantha’s first PhD research chapter. Earlier this year, she defended her thesis, and after some very hard work in the past three and half year, Samantha can now proudly call her self a Doctor!

Talking about the time working on her PhD, Samantha said:

Whilst working on my PhD I have been fortunate in having been supported by so many friends, many of whom I first met at the Global Summit in 2013. Whether it was for conference purposes or pure leisure, I tried to meet up with my UA alumni friends whenever I could. From visiting Anneloes Hoff at her alma mater in Middelburg or at her new home institution in Oxford; introducing Anshuman Pal to carnival in Cologne and hiking with him through Maiella National Park this summer, or flying all the way to Canada to master the art of wearing a saree for Thineshan Kathirchelvan’s glorious wedding in 2016. I could not have made it without you!

This year has been a new beginning for Samantha. In March, she underwent a medical procedure called Collagen Crosslinking to halt the further progression of her corneal degenerative disease Keratoconus. “This treatment needs repeating every 7-10 years, and I underwent Crosslinking before I started my undergrad in 2009. So I quite literarily started the first half of my year with a fresh new outlook on life”, Samantha commented.

It has been almost four years since she first came to Dublin, and now Samantha is here again, in “lovely Dublin” working for The Undergraduate Awards. We are absolutely over the moon to have her with us!

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Diarmuid Bolger

Diarmuid Bolger from the University College Dublin (UCD) was a 2014 Highly Commended Entrant in the History category with his paper titled ‘Barbarians at the gate?’ How have revisionist schools of history challenged national myths?

When heard that he was named as one of the Highly Commended Entrants, Diarmuid was just about to graduate from his undergraduate degree and move into a Masters in Irish History in UCD, during which he was “incredibly lucky” to get to engage with his favourite area of Irish history – the history of sport in Ireland. This culminated in a thesis entitled ‘The Grumpy Archbishop’: John Charles McQuaid and the Yugoslavia Football Controversy.

During this time, Diarmuid also worked at the Little Museum of Dublin, a small and quaint museum based off of St Stephen’s Green, “telling the remarkable story of the Irish capital”. Talking about his experience, Diarmuid commented:

It was easily my favourite career move I have made so far. While here, I got to work with some amazing fellow interns and staff members, and also developed a very keen passion to work in the museum industry.

After leaving the museum, Diarmuid went on to work with the Royal Hibernian Academy Gallery, the Aviva Stadium and now the National Museum of Ireland as a tour guide. He also gives occasional talks and short lectures around Dublin, most recently to a Swedish teaching organisation discussing 1916 and the centenary, and also conduct research for different scholars/members of the public.

At the beginning of last year, Diarmuid was accepted to do the MPhil in Public History and Cultural Heritage in Trinity College, Dublin, a prospect he is very excited about. Discussing his plan for the future, Diarmuid said:

[The Master] will involve writing another thesis, which I hope to aim around the 50th anniversity of the Anglo-Irish Truce, as a study of government sponsored commemorations and the controversies these can create. I am also, almost incredibly slowly, working on turning my old thesis into a book, an experience which is at times as painful as it is exhilarating. I am also debating working on a PhD in the future on Irish history, focusing on either women and sport in Ireland or the relationship between the Church and culture after partition.

Asides from works, Diarmuid is also returning to writing and performing stand-up comedy, which he has to abandon when begin writing his first thesis.

We cannot wait to read his new works, and wish him all the best in his future endeavours!

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Lorraine Cleary

Lorraine Cleary was a 2014 Highly Commended Entrant in both the Visual Arts and the Media & the Arts category.

Her Visual Arts project, Mise en Scene, was part of our first art exhibition ALIGNED, which took place in 2015. You can check out her amazing work here.

After graduating from the Limerick School of Art and Design with a First Class Honours in Sculpture and Combine Media in 2014, Lorraine went on and obtained a Masters of Arts in Interactive Media with First Class Honours from the University of Limerick.

Lorraine is a multidisciplinary artist working in the mediums of sculpture, photography, experimental film, video, sound and performance. She has a specific interest in the everyday space, in particular, that of the domestic space; her work is constant in its “deliberation of the physical environment in relation to the observer’s movement within it”. Discussing the inspiration behind her works, she said:

My ongoing investigation into how the residue of a trauma can remain in a space long after that event has occurred is an important concept within my work. Ultimately space has the ability to absorb events, traumatic or otherwise, and with each onslaught of such an event that space is changed forever. Technology penetrates the very core of my work, interconnectivity is important in not just bringing the physical pieces of work together but in its invitation to the viewer, in its objective to make the viewer an integral part of that environment. Our changing social environment adapts to new technologies on an ongoing basis and this advancing technology emits heavy influence on our everyday lives. An ongoing concern between the everyday space and the online space emerges and the conflict between both serves as an inspiration in my work.

Lorraine’s most recent group exhibitions include ‘The Model presents Cairde Visual 2017’ at The Mall, Sligo and the ‘Winter Open Exhibition’ at Rua Red Gallery, Dublin. For more information and to check out her amazing works, you can visit Lorrain’s website here. We cannot wait to see more of her works!

Where Are They Now Wednesday: David Mak

David Mak was a Highly Commended Entrant in the Life Science category in 2015 with his paper titled “Effects of prenatal alcohol exposure and adolescent stress on the immune response to challenge: Profiling cytokine expression patterns in multiple tissues”.

Currently, David is in his second year of medical school at the University of British Columbia, where he is involved in clinical research in the fields of stroke neurology and radiology, and in basic science research in the fields of developmental neuroscience, immunology, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Since being involved with UA, David has taken his research further. Speaking about his plan, David said:

I have had wonderful and numerous opportunities to present my work (the same one I submitted to UA!), the most exciting ones being the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Conference in 2015 and the Canadian National Medical Student Research Symposium in 2016. I have also been able to network with other inspiring UA alumni to discuss potential opportunities to further my stroke research in Edinburgh and Manchester!

Despite his busy academic schedule, David is involved with many different community organizations and activities. He is a member of a hip-hop group and is involved in a Teddy Bear Clinic, where they reach out to community daycares and elementary schools and essentially “play doctor” with young children, with the hopes of relieving any potential anxiety and fear associated with physicians, and to promote a positive physician-patient relationship right from a young age.

He is also a Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserves and currently work as a training officer with a local squadron of Air Cadets and at a provincial training center on Vancouver Island, and as a movement and transport officer at Vancouver International Airport.

In his free time, David loves spending time outdoors in the beautiful British Columbia, from skiing in the winter, to hiking in the summer. He enjoys playing violin and piano, hanging out with friends and family, and playing badminton!

Talking about his future plans, David said:

I am currently interested in pursuing a medical career either in neurology or family medicine. I look forward to meeting more fantastic and inspiring undergraduates and UA alumni!

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Casimir Legrand

Casimir Legrand is a 2016 Highly Commended Entrant in the Politics & International Relations category. Since then, he has been occupied with different exciting projects and opportunities.

Casimir Legrand, middle, at a function during his time at St Andrews

Excitingly, his Highly Commended paper “Scope, Methodology and Systemic Failure of the jus cogens Mechanism: The Disconnect between Morality, State Sovereignty, and Autonomy” will be featured in the fourth edition of the University of Toronto’s Undergraduate Law Journal, Intra Vires. The paper was originally submitted for credit in an International Law module Cas took while he was on a full-year exchange at the University of St Andrews.

Cas has recently completed his Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Relations at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. This summer, he is interning for the Donner Canadian Foundation, a Canadian/American public policy organisation that focuses on professional grant making towards international development, social services, and public policy research projects.

After finishing his internship this month. Cas will pursue a Dual Master’s degree in International Affairs offered jointly by Sciences Po’s Paris School of International Affairs in Paris, France and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in London, UK.

Talking about the motivation behind his studies, Cas said:

As an international relations scholar, I have developed an interest in global politics and global governance, with an emphasis on the diplomatic and normative frameworks of multilateral forums and international institutions. Specifically, I am interested as to why nations continue to rely on them to navigate international issues and how underlying principles such as social justice, democratization, and transparency work towards supporting their claims to legitimacy.

We wish him all the best of luck with his Masters and his future projects!

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Broy Lim & “and now they know”

Broy Lim from Nanyang Technological University is a 2016 Highly Commended Entrant in the Visual Arts category with his project and now they know.

Lim was recently chosen as one of eight Asian artists to be awarded the inaugural Steidl Book Award Asia, where winners get to publish with the renown photo book publisher. The project, and now they know, is an intimate exploration of Lim’s realisation of his homosexuality in his hometown of Singapore, where it still remains illegal. Combining personal texts and photos, it “narrates Lim’s sexual identity and his nine-year relationship with his partner, while also representing the broader struggle of many youths who navigate their sense of self in conservative heteronormative societies”.

Speaking to Straits Time about the project, Lim said: “This project seeks to reconcile my identities as a son and a lover, in a language that could most potently express my struggles – the language of photography. Through this work, I want to tell the people around me that this is who I am, without having to say a single word.”

Lim’s book is set to be released in July and you can find out more about it on the Steidl website here.

At the moment, Lim is working freelance as an educator, teaching subjects ranging from arts to photography to life skills.

Check out his Behance profile here.

Where Are They Now: Giulia Luzi

Giulia Luzi with the piece “Hugo Chávez and the media’ How was the media used to influence public opinion on Chávez and his government?” won the Media & Journalism category in 2015. Now she continues to advance within the organisation Search for Common Ground.

As a student at Dublin City University, Giulia Luzi was interested in different cultures and the interactions between them. After graduation Giulia began an internship for the European Affairs and Partnership Team of Search for Common Ground. This NGO works with 36 countries around the world on peace building and conflict transformation. After her internship, she remained in the same organisation and has since held two different positions.

On the Africa team, Giulia worked on a project that encompassed “better working relationships between civil society organisations and government authorities in Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria.” After this, she was promoted to the position of European Affairs and Partnerships Associate, the position who supervised her during her internship. Currently she works with fundraising and policy matters and liaising with European field offices.  

Giulia reflects on her travels at the time of the UA Global Summit in 2015 how they were limited within Europe, however she has gotten the opportunity to see more of the world since.

I have travelled to Tanzania, Zanzibar, Washington DC, New York, Boston, Cuba and Rwanda both thanks to my job and for fun. In the near future, I would like to pursue further studies in the field of conflict analysis and resolution, and to travel to Latin America.

Giulia plans to Master in Conflict, Security and Development at Sussex University in 2018.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Marianne White

Marianne White from The University of Dundee was the Overall Winner of 2015 in the Nursing & Midwifery category.

Marianne White took interest in the human condition during travels around Africa, India, Australia and the Pacific and after seeing the way politics, poor infrastructure and health care had effected these regions. She received her title of Overall Winner in 2015 in the Nursing & Midwifery category with her paper “Does the provision of evidence based information or decision aids versus usual care for healthy pregnant women with previous caesarean deliveries increase the number of vaginal births in subsequent pregnancies?” After attending the global summit, White continued her hard work within a maternity unit in Scotland.

I came back to work with energy and a “thinking outside the box” type approach [in] the environment in which I work.

After being inspired at the summit and adopting a collaborative way of thinking, she has been seconded to the University of Dundee to work within a Research group. This study is working to gather information on women and service providers in her region.

We hope to investigate the factors which provide quality care and enhance the outcomes for women and newborns, determining how model of care used affects these perspectives or outcomes.

Outside of her research, White lives with her partner and two girls on their family farm. They stay busy keeping up the farm and spending their time outdoors.



Where Are They Now Wednesday: Jen Fullerton

Jen Fullerton, Highly Commended Entrant, paper artist and PhD candidate from the Australian National University, creates a set of sculptures reflecting online abuse of Australian politicians.

Since Jen Fullerton received the title of Highly Commended Entrant in 2014, Fullerton alongside social scientist Dr. Robert Ackland, have created pieces of sculpture with inspiration from the online social media platform Twitter. The large amount of Twitter abuse directed at Australian politicians influenced her works displayed at the ANU School of Art & Design Foyer Gallery.

The resulting work is part data visualisation and part social commentary – inspired and informed by data and expressed through the physicality and emotive language of sculpture.

Fullerton uses paper in this set of works particularly to show how an “old world medium” can reflect how online actions impact and are seen in the real world.

It helped me explore another aspect of the internet that wasn’t in my purview.

You can find out more about this project here and information about Fullerton and her other creations at


Where Are They Now Wednesday: Shelby Challis

Shelby Challis from the University of Toronto was a Highly Commended Entrant in the Social Science category for the 2014 Undergraduate Awards with her paper titled “The Macroeconomic and Socioeconomic Impact of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in South Africa”.

A recent alumnus of the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance where she completed her Master of Public Policy in 2016, Shelby was highly involved with the university’s publication and wrote several articles for them.

Her proudest piece was an article on the intersection between mental health and affordable housing, which you can read here. You can also check out her other articles here.

Outside of the university, Shelby is also busy travelling. She described her latest journey to Machu Picchu as “a trip of a lifetime”!

Since completing her Master, Shelby has worked as a Policy Advisor for Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Her policy area of interest includes healthcare finance and quality improvement, affordable housing and mental health and addiction.

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Killian Glynn and Where We Are Now Theatre Festival

Killian Glynn from the Institute Technology of Sligo was a Highly Commended Entrant in the Art History, Music, Film & Theatre category in the 2016 Undergraduate Awards, as well as our Campus Ambassador at IT Sligo for the academic year 2016/17.

Since then, Killian has been keeping busy with various projects. He is currently working on the Where Are We Now Theatre Festival which will open this Thursday, 8th June and run until Saturday, 10th June.

Discussing the inspiration behind the Festival, Killian said:

About three years ago, I had an idea to have a theatre event that was inclusive to the queer community within the northwest. It would be a staging of original writing and local directors and celebrate not just LGBT people in rural Ireland but both local and international artists. Where We Are Now is a festival by and about those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and everything in between!

But I needed help, so I proposed the idea to The Rabbit’s Riot Theatre Company, a production company based in the north-west of Ireland that aims to create thought-provoking and emotive theatre using both established and new writing.

Where We Are Now is a project that seeks to recognize and give an on-stage voice to members of rural communities in the Irish north-west. It is the first collaboration of its kind between writers from across the globe and Irish directors and actors within Co. Sligo.

This is not just an opportunity to support theatre in Ireland, where funding has been cut drastically over the past few years, but LGBTQ+ theatre in a part of the country where it is sorely needed.

You can check out their full programme on their website here, or keep an eye out for them on Facebook and Twitter for any updates!

And if you are interested in Killian’s writing, you can check out his work in The Rose Magazine here.

We wish Killian all the best with the festival and hopefully, we can catch a show as well!

By visiting this site, you consent to our use of cookies.