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Liberal Arts Commencement


Liberal Arts Graduating Year 2012

Liberal Arts Comencement Students - 2012


On 21st June, the College held its tenth Commencement Ceremony to mark the graduation of the 2012 class of Liberal Arts students. Over 80 students were present, with family and friends, to receive their Higher Education Achievement Records. This is the first year that the College has issued an Achievement Record, which not only certifies the student’s performance within the degree, but a range of other qualifications, awards and achievements that were part of the student’s university experience.

The College also gave awards to some outstanding students in the 2012 class.


Student of the Year

The Liberal Arts Perpetual Cup is given to the student who, not only achieves the highest result in degree classification, but also displays the qualities and values that characterise the St Mary’s experience.

The winner in 2012 is Roisin Gray who hails from St Matthew’s parish, Belfast. Roisin chose English as her main academic subject within the Liberal Arts programme. Under the direction of Dr Brian Hanratty, she wrote her final dissertation on ‘Narrative and Storytelling in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road’. She took part in the Erasmus programme in her second year, when she studied at the University of Paderborn in Germany. In her third year, she completed her WRL placement with Trocaire where she gained valuable management experience as part of the team co-ordinating Trocaire’s Lenten campaign. This experience has helped shape her career plans as she hopes to work for a non-governmental organization in the future. Her immediate plans are to complete a Masters in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Ulster, Magee campus.


Professor Peter Finn with Roisin Gray

Professor Peter Finn with Roisin Gray


International Student of the Year

The Eugene Morrissey Cup is awarded to the student who has best engaged in the College’s international programme and exemplifies the College’s commitment to the international dimension of their studies. This year, two students were honoured in this category.


Ciaran Chapman and John McLean
Ciaran Chapman and John McLean


Ciaran Chapman comes from West Belfast. He took part in the Erasmus programme in his second year, when he studied at University Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra, Slovakia. He returned there for his final-year work placement, working in the university’s Language Institute. A student of English literature, Ciaran also spent time in Krosno, Poland, studying identity and migration. This shaped his final-year dissertation on the place of exile in the writings of Joyce, McEachern, and Iranian literary texts. He has been successful in his application for a teaching post in Nitra for the coming year, and will commence his PhD at that university.

John McLean, from Castlewellan, County Down, has made significant use of opportunities at St Mary’s to study abroad. He took part in the Erasmus programme in his second year, when he studied at Gotland University, Sweden. He also spent a summer at the University of Mississippi, USA. His final-year work placement was with the British Council where he assisted in the co-ordination of their student exchange programmes. John, likewise, will be moving to Nitra, Slovakia, to take up a teaching post.


The Fr Martin O’Callaghan Cup for Entrepreneurship

Donated by Rev Prof Martin O’Callaghan, former Principal of the College who was instrumental in initiating the Liberal Arts programme with its strong commitment to business and enterprise, this award recognised the distinctive entrepreneurial skills of top students. Two students received this award for quite different experiences.



Professor Peter Finn with Susan Murphy and James McLaughlin
Professor Peter Finn with Susan Murphy and James McLaughlin


James McLaughlin, from Ballycastle, County Antrim, entered the Liberal Arts programme with a strong commitment to overseas development work. He used his time in the College to further that interest over two work experiences in Uganda, the first of which was a work placement with the Kitetika Rock Foundation, Uganda in 2011. This foundation is headed by Derek Keys from Coleraine and assists the villagers in the Kitetika region to develop schools, farming and local enterprises. In 2012, James returned to Uganda to work with the Red Cross and a local social enterprise, Msalaba Mwekundu Ltd, in development of medical training and equipment. James’s commitment to social development in Africa makes him an outstanding example of the aim of the Liberal Arts degree, to develop in students a commitment to service and community.

Susan Murphy comes from Keady, County Armagh, and is a mature student. After leaving school, she spent ten years gaining experience in the world of business. She opened several businesses both on the high street and on-line. She saw the Liberal Arts degree programme as an opportunity for personal development and also for an enrichment of the skills and gifts she could bring to others. Over the two years of her work placement within the degree, she returned to her former secondary school, St Patrick’s College, Keady, and developed her skills for educational management. She also drew on her experiences of enterprise to enrich the curriculum of current pupils. In this way, she brought together enterprise and education in a productive manner.