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Western People — Irish Water teams up with Ballina students for Science Week

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It was a step back in time for some and a glance into the future for others when a team from Irish Water celebrated Science Week with students of St Mary’s Secondary School in Ballina.

Irish Water’s Marian Duggan, Lisa Garrett, Jenna Holmes and Mary O’Hara with teachers Róisín McManamy and Annette Leonard and students of St Mary’s Secondary School in Ballina during Science Week.

College courses, career choices and water molecules all came under the microscope in the school’s new labs during a discussion on the infinite possibilities of science.

Irish Water is home to some of the country’s best scientists, so it was fitting that representatives from the company were on hand to share their career journeys.

Four of the company’s North West team from different departments of the businesses spoke to the Fifth Year students. Enniscrone’s Mary O’Hara, an environmental scientist who has worked in compliance and more recently as a communications specialist with Irish Water; Jenna Holmes, an assistance project manager from Killala who is working on the delivery of large-scale infrastructural projects; Ballina’s Lisa Garrett, a health and safety lead with experience working in the UK and Ireland and Knock’s Marian Duggan, a former journalist who works as a communications co-ordinator with Irish Water all delved into the history of their education and careers with some unconventional paths taken along the way.

Mary O’Hara, an environmental scientist from Enniscrone, spoke of her passion for science with students.

All four of the team have strong connections with the school but it was a particularly poignant event for Mary O’Hara returning to her alma mater and reconnecting with the teacher who nurtured her love for science.

“It’s fantastic to get an opportunity to come back to St Mary’s and share my experiences with the students. I know how daunting it can be when you’re trying to find your third level path. Annette Leonard was a wonderful science teacher and encouraged me to follow my passion and it was lovely to catch up with her again in this wonderful new school.”

Science Week 2022 encouraged students to investigate the infinite possibilities of the subject, so it was fitting to have representatives from a company where scientists are essential to ensure we all have clean drinking water, explained school principal Robert O’Reilly.

“Our senior students always have one eye on their career choices and having professionals visiting and sharing their experiences is invaluable.”

College courses and career choices were the hot topics of discussion when members of Irish Water’s North West team visited St Mary’s Secondary School in Ballina during Science Week.

Science teacher Róisín McManamy was particularly impressed by Irish Water’s diverse expertise and job opportunities right across the country.

“It’s lovely to hear about the exciting roles these four remarkable women have and to see them carry out those roles from the North West region. They are from this region, and they continue to live here. They have shown the students that it’s not always necessary to move to the cities to secure employment in your field.

Students Isabelle Bourke and Isabel Munnelly were equally surprised by the plethora of career doors that science and engineering qualifications open.

“It hadn’t realized all of the options available to me,” said Killala’s Isabel Munnelly.

“Often when you contemplate studying science or engineering you associate it with a few careers but today we’ve heard about so many other options,” added Ballina’s Isabelle Bourke.

Students with an interest in science can read about the journey taken by a number of Irish Water’s scientists at:

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