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DIT celebrates student leaders at ACE awards

Posted: 4 September, 2018

Earlier this year, DIT honoured over 100 students for their outstanding commitment to volunteer work at an annual awards ceremony hosted by DIT Access and Civic Engagement (ACE).

The awards celebrate DIT access and disability students for their volunteering work in assisting first-years with the transition to third-level and mentoring second-level students to encourage them to consider continuing their education to third-level. On the night two exceptional students, Carissa Smith and Adam Betts, won awards for their outstanding contribution to the student experience of DIT.

Students volunteered on a number of ACE initiatives and events, including the Access Student Leadership Launchpad, whereby student leaders help new Access students adjust to college life, and the Transition Year Skills Challenge coordinated by ACE in which students from local schools in Grangegorman compete in a range of challenges in sports, debating and vocational skills with mentorship from DIT students.  Students also participated in Switch on STEM, a Science Foundation Ireland programme, whereby DIT is provided with STEM resources to host open days and events for local primary and second-level students.

Carissa Smith, a third-year Information Systems & Information Technology based in DIT Kevin Street, is a shining example of the spirit of volunteerism in DIT. Carissa's journey to Higher Education was not straightforward as she struggled in school and was diagnosed with Dyslexia at the age of 20. Despite these setbacks, she completed several PLC courses while also caring for her sister with special needs, and she began studying for her undergraduate degree in 2016.

In her second-year Carissa volunteered as a Student Leader, mentoring first-year access and DARE students, helping them make the transition to third-level.  She also volunteered as a Technology Mentor for the eir Assistive Technologies pilot project, developed by the Disability Support Service in DIT.  This ground-breaking project involves the use of mobile and chrome-based applications that enable speech-to-text technology to improve academic performance and enhance the student’s learning experience. As part of her role, Carissa ran workshops and created learning materials such as tutorial videos and infographics to promote the Apps amongst DIT students.

Adam Betts, a fourth-year Business and Management student, was recognised for his role as Coordinator of the 2017-2018 DIT ACE Leadership Launchpad peer mentoring programme for first-year students.  The programme is led by students who volunteer over 100 hours of their time and Adam showed expert strategic management and planning skills in preparing a team of Access student leaders for their roles as mentors. He developed an excellent orientation programme for first-year students, offering expert guidance to his student colleagues, and his professional communication and problem-solving skills were evident throughout his tenure as programme coordinator.

Speaking at the ACE awards ceremony, Dr Noel O’Connor, Director of Student Development at DIT, praised the contributions of the students to DIT and the broader community. "As I listened to the stories of our student volunteers, I was inspired by the spirit of mentorship and leadership demonstrated by this exceptional group of student volunteers. Each student recognised today is a shining example of why widening access to Higher Education is so important to not just these students' learning experience and future careers, but that of their peers, lecturers and society."

The DIT Access Service supports students from disadvantaged schools and communities in applying to higher education through a comprehensive programme of initiatives for schools and communities. The service also assists access students in adjusting successfully to DIT and helping them to gain the maximum benefit from their time in DIT by providing a range of post-entry supports. More information about the DIT Access Service is available here