UA Alumni: Dawn Smyth
Dawn was the Overall Winner of the Nursing and Midwifery category in 2014.
Her winning paper explored the area of abortion in Ireland in the time that followed Savita Hallapanavar’s death. This paper was written at a time where there were pivotal changes in the Irish health system including the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, (2013). Since this, a successful appeal of the Eighth Amendment (2018) has seen abortion legalised in Ireland.
Dawn is particularly interested in controversial topics and in ethical dilemmas in healthcare.
What happened since the award? What are you doing now?
Since the Undergraduate Awards, I married my long-term love and was informed when on honeymoon in January 2016, that my winning paper had been published in the International Journal of Nursing Practice. I was elated. I worked on this with my lecturer Paula Lane who had originally recommended I submit my paper to the Global Undergraduate Awards.
I worked as a theatre nurse after I graduated in 2015. I loved this job and worked with an amazing team of colleagues who I am still in touch with.
However, in 2018, I decided to take on a new challenge and change in career. I have always had an interest in maternal health, and this led me to commence a higher diploma in midwifery. While it was a challenging 18 months, it was extremely rewarding. On graduation I was awarded the National Maternity Hospital Gold Medal for achieving the highest grades in my course in the University of Ireland Exams. I also published my second publication ‘Discourses and critiques of breastfeeding and their implications for midwives and health professionals’ in Nursing Inquiry. I worked on this paper with Professor Abbey Hyde from University College Dublin.
I have been working as a Midwife since September 2019 and am now based in Kilkenny. In this September, I began a masters in Maternal and Children’s Health with Waterford Institute of Technology.
What do you like the most about what you do?
I truly have an incredible job. To see the joy that new life brings, there is nothing quite like it. I think that moment when a woman gives birth, and you place her baby on her chest. The overwhelming emotion in the room. It's difficult to explain. I just feel privileged to be part of it and to be able to contribute to the woman’s experience.
Has receiving an award for your hard work helped?
I think being awarded for your work has a huge impact on your self-esteem and is extremely motivating. When I have days where I struggle or question myself, I remind myself of my achievements and tell myself I am capable of whatever I put my mind to. Publishing my first paper as an undergraduate gave me the confidence to pursue the publication of my second paper in my postgraduate studies.
What are your plans or dreams for the future?
I would love to see myself in a CMS role or in nursing/ midwifery education in the future.
How was your experience as an undergraduate student? Was it easy or did you face any struggles?
I enjoyed my experience as an undergraduate student but like anyone there were difficult times. I found some of my practice placements more difficult than others and financially it was a few particularly challenging years. However, I am all the prouder of my achievements as a result and have learnt a lot about myself along the way. I have been privileged to have had inspiring and motivating lecturers who have pushed me to make the most of my abilities.
What advice would you give current undergraduate students or recent graduates?
Always say yes to opportunities that come your way. Use the resources available to you. If you excel in an assignment, ask your lecturer if your work is worthy of submission to the Undergraduate Awards or publishing in an academic Journal. Most lecturers will have experience in this area and will be able to guide you through the process. Being published is a way of showing potential employers how you can contribute to your field and sets you apart from your peers.
Encourage submission! Why should students submit their work?
Absolutely submit your work. What have you got to lose? You have already done the hard work. The experience of the Undergraduate Awards Summit is one I will not forget. I met some extremely talented young people from all over the world. I presented my work to a group of my peers which at the time was daunting but gave me the confidence to present my research at a conference in Vienna in 2016.
"Absolutely submit your work. What have you got to lose? You have already done the hard work. The experience of the Undergraduate Awards Summit is one I will not forget. I met some extremely talented young people from all over the world. I presented my work to a group of my peers which at the time was daunting but gave me the confidence to present my research at a conference in Vienna in 2016."