Jane Ní Luasa, a graduate of Mary Immaculate College (MIC) and now a teacher at Gaelscoil Dhroichead na Banndan, is one of 36 remarkable academics, professionals and students from across Ireland to be awarded a scholarship under the prestigious Fulbright Programme. The Fulbright awardees were recently announced at an online celebration hosted by Ciarán Cannon TD, Minister for the Diaspora and International Development.
With an emphasis on cultural immersion and building long-term academic and professional connections, the Fulbright programme selects excellent candidates from all over Ireland to work with top US Institutions across all disciplines ranging from science, technology and business, to the arts and culture. Jane, who was awarded a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) scholarship, is due to depart for the US in September where she will teach the Irish language and take classes at the University of Montana.
Having graduated from MIC as a primary teacher in 2018, Jane is now teaching in Gaelscoil Dhroichead na Banndan, an Irish medium primary school in her native Cork. Reacting to her Fulbright award, Jane said, “I am honoured. I have been exploring the idea for a couple of years and decided to apply this year. It’s a dream come true for me to be awarded a Fulbright scholarship. I intend to inspire a love of the Irish language and culture in my students at the University of Montana and I hope they will develop the same interest and passion for Gaeilge as I have!”
A native Irish speaker who hails from Gougane Barra in the Múscraí Gaeltacht, Jane is passionate about the Irish language. During her time at MIC, Jane was an active member and chairperson of the Cumann Gaelach, as well as PRO of the St Vincent de Paul society.“My family run the Gougane Barra Hotel so I have years of experience sharing my passion for the Irish language and culture with people from all around the world. At MIC, I had the opportunity to study interesting Irish modules in education and the arts and as chairperson of the Cumann Gaelach at MIC, I thoroughly enjoyed promoting Gaeilge throughout the College. It is an honour for me to be given the opportunity to teach Irish abroad and I’m excited to share my passion for Gaeilge and Irish culture in the US.”
One of the highlights of Jane’s time at MIC was the time she spent studying abroad at Loyola University in Chicago. Here she gained valuable insight into the US education system through teaching at local elementary schools. Commenting on her time at MIC, Jane said,“Two Irish lecturers at MIC, Siobhán Ní Mhurchú and Dr Róisín Ní Ghairbhí really stimulated my love of Irish, encouraged me as a student teacher and helped develop my confidence. They both encouraged me to apply to be an FLTA and I am so grateful to both of them for their support.”
Congratulating Jane on her Fulbright award, Professor Michael Healy, Vice President of Research at MIC said, “I warmly congratulate our graduate Jane Ní Luasa on being awarded a prestigious Fulbright FLTA scholarship. The Fulbright Awards are highly competitive, associated with excellence and prestige, and reflect the excellent calibre of scholar that MIC continues to graduate. The College takes great pride in these achievements and we look forward to seeing the fruits of Jane’s experience when she returns.”
Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, Jane, like many teachers throughout Ireland, had to quickly adapt her teaching practice in light of school closures. She said, “At the beginning, teaching online was challenging but by now we have gotten used to it and I have learned valuable skills adapting to it. The team at GS Dhroichead na Banndan are very supportive and we worked together to come up with creative ways to make it work. My class is fantastic and I know they all worked so hard to keep up with their school work in these challenging times.”
She added, “I am now living out my childhood dream of being a school teacher. This job allows me to spend every day doing what I love: teaching, speaking Irish, playing music and singing, being creative, learning about others and sharing stories. I am excited to do this in another setting during my Fulbright year.”