College is not just for academics, explains Fianna Fáil TD Niamh Smyth . Niamh Smyth is a Fianna Fáil deputy from Bailieborough Co. Cavan. She was first elected to the Dáil in 2016 and now serves as the party’s Frontbench Spokesperson on Arts and Heritage. A secondary school teacher by profession, Niamh was a poll topper in the local elections in Cavan for many years and held the position of Arts Education Officer for Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board. Below she tells her story of her time studying a Post Graduate in Dance Education at the University of Limerick.
Dance is an important ally for developing many of the characteristics of a growing adolescent. It helps you mature physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively and I definitely cherish the decision I made to take on this course at the University of Limerick. – In my opinion one of the best performance art courses in Ireland.
If you are trying to think of the relevance to my post graduate and my current job - I understand that. You might be finding it hard to see how a post graduate in dance education can lead me to national politics or indeed qualify me.
What I will say to you is life is not all about what you have written down on paper or the letters beside your name, life is about lessons, skills and qualities you adapt as you continue on your path- and believe me I learnt two of the most valuable during my time at UL – discipline and endurance.
If you are reading this you are either in UL or considering it as a college. And what can I say that will convince you it is the college for you- nothing. But if you enjoy challenges, tough courses, amazing facilities and endless amounts of clubs & societies then perhaps it is. It is not an easy university, to achieve good grades is hard and the academics are very competitive but this suited me- it drove me on and taught me the value of working for things.
I believe my time in UL helped grow my psychological health and maturity. I genuinely enjoyed the opportunity to express my emotions and become aware of myself through dance and was excited about the prospect of bringing this into my teaching career. UL helped me foster my social skills, my ability to interact without barriers and my appreciation for cooperation in all walks of life- and I think you can agree these are relevant skills to my working life currently.
If you are studying a heavy academic course you can gain these skills too by immersing yourself in clubs and societies and becoming part of something.
Dance and Politics
Yes- it was a very happy year for me in UL and I hope you will agree with me when I say achieving a Post Graduate in Dance Education from UL was paramount to my life going forward. Of course I agree academics are crucial, I am a teacher by profession after all, however what I took from that course academically, emotionally and physically will never leave me. It has paid its dues down the years- first as a teacher then Art Education Officer for CMETB; County Councillor and now as Arts and Heritage Spokesperson for Fianna Fail.
My advice to you, get active, get creative and don’t worry college is not just for academics. You can dance your way towards your goals.