Current UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) President, Mícheál Gallagher and his predecessor, Rachel Breslin, have been accepted onto the Washington Ireland Program following their successful applications to the scheme that aims to develop the participants’ leadership skills.
The program relocates a selection of young people to Washington DC for a six-month period each year. The central aspect of the program is the eight week stint in the US capital, during which the successful applicants to the programme will be given the opportunity to gain experience through professional internships in Congressional offices, government departments, media outlets, non-profit organisations, diplomatic offices, and finance institutions.
Participants are expected to gain valuable experience and exposure to the challenges of leadership, skills that are involved in organisation, and to learn from leading political figureheads.
This experience garnered is expected to aid their future attempts to develop innovative methods for contributing to their societies.
Speaking to the University Observer, an SU Spokesperson said, “We here in UCDSU believe that all people who get involved, at any level from class representative to executive committee, have a significant advantage when applying to this particular programme. Having two UCD students who have served as UCDSU President being selected for the programme is evident of that.”
Gallagher will depart for the Program once his tenure as UCDSU President finishes in June.
Speaking about his success in obtaining a place, Gallagher said, “It’s been an absolute delight holding a leadership role in the UCD community over the last year and half. I would like to thank everyone who’s supported me along the way. I wish anyone who is considering running for executive committee positions in the upcoming elections the best of luck.”
The Program branches out into three unique phases; pre-departure and preparation phase, placement phase, and return and re-entry phase.
At the end of the Program, the students are expected to undertake an active role in the 450 alumni that make up the wide network of similarly-minded people and apply their leadership lessons learned to their relative areas of expertise.
As part of the pre-departure phase, the participants receive training and the support they need to maximise the potential experience they can garner from working in Washington.
Phase two sees the participants begin their placements in Washington and fulfill the extensive leadership curriculum alongside their peers. They are also expected to compete for individual work placements.
Upon the completion of phase two, the participants return home and it is hoped they have amassed enough experience from their placement to help them develop their approach to challenges that face their society.