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Awards and advice at heart of 2022 Harper Ireland Club dinner

Posted 7 March

Kerry Given, from Balinderry, County Antrim, winner of the Truesdale Award for 2022 with Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan.

Kerry Given, from Balinderry, County Antrim, winner of the Truesdale Award for 2022 with Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan.

Harper Ireland Club Students from the island of Ireland who are studying at Harper Adams University gathered for the first Harper Ireland Club dinner for two years last Friday (March 4.)

The event featured an after-dinner talk from Harper alumna, Niamh Molloy – who now works as a Technical and Commercial Manager UK and Scandinavia at Aviagen – as well as the annual prize-giving ceremony, which saw the Victor Truesdale award, the President’s Award, and the Vice-President’s Award all bestowed upon worthy recipients.

The event was the first dinner Harper Ireland dinner since February 2020, and the first to be addressed by University Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan in his role as President of the Harper Ireland student society.

Niamh told the gathered students, staff and guests how she found her career underpinned by the importance of networking – paying tribute to Harper Adams in Ireland alumni association’s Basil Bayne, who was present at the evening, for his support in building her networks – and for persuading her to study at Harper Adams.

In an advice-packed speech, Niamh underlined the importance of building a career, not just a job. “A job is something you do for money, whereas a career is also something you do for money - but ultimately it is a long-term endeavour, something you build towards and work to improve upon every day.

“With that in mind what is important to think about for your first job after graduating, for me there are four key things I considered important to me at the time:

“A technically orientated company where you are able to best utilise your degree: you have spent the time and financial contribution, now let your degree be used. Make use of the knowledge and expertise you have gained – otherwise, what was the point?

“A sector of the industry which is growing – the poultry industry globally has been growing steadily at a rate of three per cent per year for the past 10 years. Where there is growth, there are opportunities. Where there are opportunities, there is increased likelihood of progression and rapid promotion within that business.

“A global industry – this interlinks with my previous point on growth and promotion – but you also have the potential not only within your country but globally, further opening opportunities.

“For me, I have been extremely privileged to have visited at least 20 different countries with Aviagen. The best part this has not been at my expense. I meet so many people who after they graduate want to travel – find a global company that is willing to pay you to do this!

“The final part is to find a company which I profitable. If a company is profitable then they are more willing to pay a reasonable package – it is not always about the salary there are also other positives within this, pension, car, holidays, prospects, connections, fulfilling career, job satisfaction etc - think longer term!”

And, concluding, she underlined the one key criteria for any role – and one she has found central in her working life.

She said: “The average person will work approximately 90,000 hours in their lifetime and for those involved in family farms this will be considerably more – find something that gets you out of bed in the morning, a career that you love and if you can see some of the world at the same time fantastic but honestly, being happy in what you do is the absolute criteria.”

The prize-giving saw BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Animal Science student Joshua Condy, 22, from Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, presented with the President’s Prize. The prize – presented by Professor Sloan in his role as President – is in awarded in recognition of students that have given their all to Harper Adams, Harper Ireland and the student community. Joshua said: “I felt very privileged to win the award!”

The Vice President’s Cup was also presented by Professor Sloan to BSc (Hons) Agriculture student and 2021 Harper Ireland Chairman, Sam McIntyre, 20, from Bushmills, County Antrim. It was then passed from Sam to 2022 Chairman, Joseph Compton, 19, from Ballymena, County Antrim.

Sam said: “I love Harper Ireland because in my first year, it was very difficult, being an Irish student living away from home – and I really enjoyed coming over to meet all the students from home and to have something in common to talk about!”

Kerry Given, from Balinderry, County Antrim, was presented with the Truesdale Award by Basil Bayne.

The prize, awarded in memory of Victor Truesdale, former sales director of John Thompson & Sons Ltd, who passed away in 2001, includes a specially commissioned crystal punch bowl and a cheque and honours the student from Ireland deemed to have made the greatest contribution to life at Harper Adams University.

Kerry, 23, a final year BSc (Hons) Animal Health and Welfare student, said: “It is a really great honour to actually be recognised for a contribution throughout the years and fantastic to win something – especially after everything that has gone on with Covid.”

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