Lucky Lisa scoops prestigious Rooney Fellowship award

June 15, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

A lucky student from Glassdrummond, Crossmaglen is preparing to spend next year studying in America having been awarded a prestigious scholarship at Southern Regional College, Newry.

Nineteen-year-old Lisa Meegan was presented with the Rooney Fellowship Award by US Ambassador to Ireland, Mr Dan Rooney and his wife, Patricia, at a recent function in the college.

The award will enable Lisa – a full-time National Diploma in Business Studies student – to study and undertake work placements in Pittsburgh, USA, under the guidance of Mr Rooney.

Now in its 18th year, the Rooney Fellowship Award is presented annually to a chosen student from Southern Regional College, Newry and provides an opportunity for that student to study in either the University of Pittsburgh or the Duquesne University. They also gain excellent work experience in Heinz of North America and work with one of the best American Football Teams in the NFL, The Pittsburgh Steelers.

Lisa says she is delighted at having been chosen for this award and is looking forward to experiencing study and work in America.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity.  I am really looking forward to going to America and am honoured at being chosen as an ambassador for Newry city,” Lisa told The Examiner.

This is her first visit to the United States and indeed the first time she has travelled abroad on her own.  However she is undaunted at the prospect and has already been in touch with a number of contacts with whom she will liaise during her stay.

“I have been speaking to a lot of the people over in America and I know I’ll be well looked after there.  The whole process is very good and there are several people assigned to meet and look after me while I’m there.  I’ll be working very closely with them and I’m very comfortable and very excited to be going,” she says.

Lisa will also have the opportunity to travel while in the States and says among the places former Rooney Fellows have travelled to are New York, Florida and Hawaii

“I’d really love to go to some of those places,” she added.

Lisa will travel to America in August to begin her year-long internship at the University of Pittsburgh and work placements with Heinz Corporation and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Award event

Lisa was announced as this year’s Rooney Fellow at an award dinner held recently in the Graduate Restaurant at the College’s East Campus. A splendid meal was served from an award winning menu created by SRC students for the recent International Food Exhibition (IFEX) competition.

Brian Doran, Chief Executive of the Southern Regional College welcomed Ambassador and Mrs Rooney and thanked them for taking time from their busy schedule to come to the College to present the Annual Rooney Fellowship Award.

He paid tribute to the couple for making the Rooney Fellowship possible and assured them that the Southern Regional was deeply committed to carrying on and developing this work.  Mr Doran paid a special tribute to the work of the Ireland Institute and welcomed Executive Director of the Ireland Institute, Teresa Stayduhar, who travelled from Pittsburgh to the event.

Martin McGrath, the outgoing Rooney Fellow, gave a brief overview of his time in Pittsburgh describing his trip as a once in a lifetime experience and thanked all involved in establishing the internship.

In his address Ambassador Rooney paid tribute to the outgoing Fellow and gave a warm welcome and congratulated the 2010 Rooney Fellow, Lisa Meegan.  Ambassador Rooney expressed his pride in all the past Rooney Fellows who he said were tremendous ambassadors for Newry city. He also paid tribute to the Rooney Alumni Group for their work in relation to the Sister Michele O’Leary Bursary in recognition of her unequivocal support of the Rooney Fellowship internship and help and guidance provided to the Fellows during their time in Pittsburgh.

The Sr Michele O’Leary Bursary winner for 2010 was announced by Brian Larkin, Chair of the Rooney Alumni Group.

The recipient was Eamon Keenan a HND Business Studies student at the College and the presentation was made by Aine Thompson, Vice Chair of Rooney Alumni Group.

Feargal McCormack reflected on the establishment of the Newry Pittsburgh Partnership and acknowledged the contribution of key individuals such as Dan Rooney, Seamus Mallon, Tony O’Reilly, Jack O’Hare, Dr Raymond Mullan and Sister Michele O’Leary who he thanked for their vision in establishing and sustaining the Rooney Fellowship over the past 18 years.

Mayor John Feehan spoke of Newry city’s long and proud association with the Rooney family and thanked the Ambassador and Mrs Rooney, on behalf of Newry and Mourne District Council, for their continued support of initiatives in the greater Newry area.