My name is Gráinne O Shea, I’m currently working as an Advanced Paramedic in the National Ambulance Service (NAS), a mother of a seventeen-year-old and a volunteer for South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association (SEMRA). Life is busy always but also interesting. I am currently undertaking a MSc in Emergency Management in DCU Business School and very indebted to the 30% Club of Ireland for awarding me a scholarship to do so.

I had spent a couple of years after my post grad in Emergency Medical Sciences looking for a speciality MSc course which would help me enhance my career progression prospects. Having already reached the top clinical grade in the National Ambulance Service, I had a desire to educate myself further and envisioned my career path taking the road of Emergency Management.

I have worked in the HSE for 21 years now and would like to continue working with them. I have also always had a huge interest in International Humanitarian Aid after travelling to a lot of impoverished countries on expeditions. These expeditions usually included time spent with the indigenous people gaining an understanding of their livelihoods and what if any assistance we could offer them. So I enquired and then heard about the scholarship opportunity available in DCU Business School & was the successful candidate and here I am currently finishing year one!

DCU Business School has so far been a really positive experience. As a student, from day one, we are given every assistance and encouragement to reach our potential. The range of talented individuals that are introduced to us through guest speakers in lectures is second to none. The lecturers themselves are all highly experienced individuals in their fields and are not shy about sharing their wealth of knowledge with us.

The 30% scholarship has been the greatest opportunity I’ve been awarded in my life so far. I went into the application process doubtful that I would be successful. I then got shortlisted for the interview stage which was a huge surprise to me. As a mature adult candidate, I had believed that someone younger and more established in the business arena would be the recipient. The evening I learned that I had been selected as the scholarship recipient was one of the highlights of my adult life and hopefully the beginning of a pathway into a leadership career in Emergency management. While I’d always been ambitious, I never had the financial means to do this course. I love education, I love learning and developing new skills. This scholarship award in DCU Business School has given me a wonderful new network of friends and hopefully future colleagues in this field.

Combining studying for my masters with my already busy life and work is certainly not easy! Working in the ambulance service means working shift-work. We are scheduled to work 12-hour shifts which more often than not go beyond those hours, that is the nature of the work we do. There is also greater demand for ambulance services in recent years which means during my off duty hours especially after night shifts – I’m usually sleeping due to exhaustion. Basically, during busy periods on my roster, it can be next to impossible to make time for course work or anything else for that matter. When I’m not on duty I have to balance home/family life with course work and college, and with a teenager (whose interests include hurling and golf) mammy’s taxi is in constant demand. My biggest struggle on the course so far is finding the correct work/life/college balance. However, thankfully the course is so interesting and the content so appealing that when I do get quality time to study, I thoroughly enjoy it. Shockingly: one or two grey hairs are beginning to appear due to the constant juggling!

On the plus side, I believe every aspect of the course will be hugely beneficial to me in developing my career. The mixture of leadership skills, public speaking opportunities and the immense emergency management knowledge we are gaining is incredible. This, in my opinion, will serve to help us become more rounded and suitable individuals with the capabilities necessary to go and develop as leaders in this field.

My number one piece of advice would be that you are never too old to learn something new. Follow your passions and work hard at realising your dreams. Do A Dara!  A colleague and friend of mine Captain Dara Fitzpatrick (RESCUE 116) died tragically two years ago. Her sister did a eulogy at her funeral and she said the following:  “When you’re scared or feeling like you cannot do something, then do a Dara”. (Niamh Fitzpatrick). She explained what this meant – Dara was one of the bravest ladies most of us in Search and Rescue ever had the privilege of knowing and meeting. When Dara was told something was impossible she dared to challenge that. So in essence – Be brave. You can turn every impossibility into a possibility.

I would absolutely recommend DCU Business School and the MSc in Emergency Management to others. I am a very proud student of the college and have been welcomed with open arms by everyone I’ve met there. The business school staff are so helpful and the faculty over my course are always available to us as students, if we’ve questions to ask or worries to discuss. The MSc in Emergency Management is a brilliant course with a faculty full of widely experienced and academically knowledgeable professors and lecturers. I am thoroughly enjoying the way the course is being taught and really feel that I’m being given every opportunity to grow academically and professionally for hopefully a bright future in Emergency management.

The DCU MSc in Emergency Management is the first programme of its kind in Ireland, endorsed by the National Steering Group for Major Emergency Management, The Emergency Planning Society (Republic of Ireland Branch) and Pharmachemical Ireland as being suitable for improving the emergency management skills of individuals in both the public and private sectors.

Gain a systematic understanding of the theory, concepts and methods at the forefront of knowledge pertaining to Emergency Management.

Develop the ability to prepare for, respond to, recover after and learn from an emergency or crisis situation.

Understand the importance of the emergency management professionals role in society and how this role may be used to effect change.

The 30% Club is a global movement of international Chairs and CEOs who are committed to better gender balance at all levels of their organisations through voluntary actions. The movement aims to reach a 30% female gender balance on Irish boards and executive management level by 2020. DCU is committed to addressing this imbalance by offering one talented female candidate the opportunity to further their career by studying a postgraduate programme of their choice at DCU Business School.