International Pen Pals
University of Limerick International Division
Students at University of Limerick are emphasising the value of volunteering to mark the nationwide launch of StudentVolunteer.ie, a new website linking students to volunteering opportunities.
The volunteering programme is modelled on the President’s Volunteer Awards (PVA) at UL. Now the Limerick university and nine other third-level colleges have joined forces to develop an online resource which matches students’ interests and expertise with volunteering opportunities.
“This bespoke higher education student volunteering management system, database and website marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in higher education student volunteering in Ireland. It is designed to connect higher education student volunteers across Ireland with local, national and international charitable and voluntary organisations. I’m proud to say that UL set the blueprint for what will now be a national asset for higher education institutions as well as charitable organisations in Ireland and beyond,” stated Professor Don Barry, President, University of Limerick.
The website is the first of its kind and aims to enhance students’ awareness of their role and responsibility in solving challenges such as homelessness, social exclusion and our ageing population.
Students at UL, and the nine other institutes, can browse and apply for volunteering opportunities nationally or internationally; manage their profile and volunteering activity online; track volunteering hours; gain recognition and apply for volunteering awards.
“My experience as a student volunteer has been an extremely rewarding and positive aspect of my life over the past three years. I genuinely encourage people to volunteer in any capacity but in a situation whereby you gain as much as you give. I take part in the Buddy Programme at the Muiriosa Foundation which matches individuals with intellectual disabilities with people like me from the local community. I can happily say that this is no longer volunteering to me - merely meeting a friend every week for coffee and a chat,” said Andrea Habenicht, a UL psychology student from Monasterevin, County Kildare.
Each year thousands of students carry out more than 100,000 hours of volunteering. This new online system is open to students of all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), private colleges and VECs and non profit organisations are welcome to submit volunteer opportunities for consideration.
Pictured L-R: Paul Campbell, guest speaker, Johanna Clifford, PVA Host, Adi Roche, guest speaker, and Dylan Grace, PVA Host.
According to Billy Norman, Customer Account Manager in Unilever, volunteer experience can help distinguish graduates in the job market.
"In an increasingly competitive employment market, when I review CVs the selflessness of a volunteer can stand out like a beacon in a sea of self-interest. The functional expertise that a volunteer can learn in an organisation, offers a head start compared to others who start at the beginning when entering permanent employment for the first time,” Mr Norman said.
Mature student Malachy Sheeran, from Killaloe, County Clare, agrees.
“I don’t volunteer for recognition or self-gratification but as a mentor said to me in today’s competitive climate employers are looking to distinguish between potential employees and voluntary experience demonstrates character and commitment in a person as well as a civic awareness,” he stated.
UL psychology student Amy Johnson from Monaleen, County Limerick used her volunteering placement in a lab carrying out an early autism study to help her better understand her academic area and to counter homesickness while studying abroad in Ontario, Canada.
"Working at the lab was an amazing experience. I had never taken part in research before and it gave me a much broader understanding of psychology. Seeing babies once a week was so much fun and brightened the rare homesick days! I made fantastic friends in the lab from Canada and America and volunteering never felt like work. Volunteering made me feel so at home in Canada and I miss the Rutherford Lab every day!" she said.
UL acknowledges students’ volunteering achievements on their academic transcripts and holds an annual ceremony to recognise the commitment of its students to their communities.
“The President’s Volunteer Award ceremony is a very special occasion as it offers us a wonderful opportunity to recognise the voluntary contributions our students are making to the broader community. During this past academic year UL students contributed over 17,000 hours to volunteering work,” Professor Barry concluded.
For further information or for images, contact:
+353 (0)61 234 921
+353 (0)86 1414 640
StudentVolunteer.ie enables students to have the opportunity to: enrich your personal development and employability skills, have a fun experience, meet new people, and give back to your community. Sign up now.Register Now