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UA Alumni - Niamh Hickey

Niamh was the Island of Ireland Regional Winner in the Education category in 2020.

Since she was awarded, Niamh has since gone on to begin a PhD researching distributed leadership in Irish post-primary schools.

What are you doing now and what has happened since the award?

Since the award, I have remained at the University of Limerick and am now a third-year PhD student researching distributed leadership in Irish post-primary schools. I am exploring interpretations of distributed leadership as well as its prevalence within an Irish post-primary school context.

So far I have really enjoyed my PhD. No two days are the same and it has already opened up so many opportunities that I had never thought of! There are undoubtedly challenges, and the pandemic has not aided these, but I can still say that I am enjoying every day of the journey.

There is always something exciting to keep you going. Most recently, I have published the first paper from my doctoral research titled “Distributed Leadership: A Scoping Review Mapping Current Empirical Research”.

What do you like the most about what you do?

There are many aspects of the PhD that I enjoy, but I particularly love how varied it is. I have attended conferences, given presentations, taught at university level, joined research groups, and attended many courses as well as researching and writing for the project itself. It has also led to the beginning of a podcast Leadership Unwrapped that a colleague of mine and I have recently launched!

What are your plans/dreams for the future?

I hope to complete my PhD within the next 18 months and aspire to continue with a career in academia thereafter. I have really enjoyed my time in university life thus far and hope to continue doing so. I also hope to stay researching the topics related to my PhD as I believe that there is much more work to be done in the field.

What advice would you give current undergraduate students or recent graduates?

Perhaps I am lucky in having enjoyed my time as an undergraduate student so much, but I think it is such a great period of time. As cliché as it sounds, my advice would be to take every opportunity that comes your way and enjoy every minute of it. They are not lying when they say it flies by!

Recent graduates, just take your time. It is absolutely okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet!

Has receiving an award for your hard work helped?

This award has been invaluable in my career journey thus far. A recognition of high-quality writing is extremely important in academia. It has aided me in gaining funding and will no doubt help me in securing a position once I finish my PhD.

Why should students submit their work?

I would sincerely encourage anyone to submit their papers to the Undergraduate Awards. You have already done the work, so why not get the credit for it?

It has the capacity to provide amazing opportunities and instils a resounding self-confidence in your abilities.