As a soon to be graduate of the MSc in Management (Business), WGPA Scholar Leah Caffrey reflects on her experience on the programme. In this piece, she discusses her motivation for returning to education, her experience on the master’s programme and how she balanced the demanding academic and sporting commitments.

Why did you want to go back to do a masters course? Was there any particular reason you chose your University?

When I was completing my undergraduate degree in analytical science I was always aware of the business management masters which caters for students who don’t have a degree in business and it was always something I had considered. I felt like I had an interest in business and the masters gave me a platform to explore this, whilst I enjoyed science I couldn’t see myself working in a lab. In my future career, I would hope that I could do something to combine both interests.

How did you find the course – was it a lot more intense than undergraduate? What were the big learnings for you this year?

My undergrad degree was quite intense so I didn’t find the step up to masters level too hard however, I wasn’t used to completing so many assignments and the POD (personal opportunity for development) activities required a lot of time. As a result of this, I found that the course helped me learn to manage my time efficiently.  I enjoyed taking the modules as they were so different to any modules I had taken in my undergraduate course and the talks which featured as part of the NGM module were very interesting.

What work/career do you intend to pursue after this course?

I am not fully decided on what direction I would like to go in, however, I would be interested in pursuing a career that combines my interest in both science and business together, perhaps something along the lines of innovation.

Describe your year on the field of play with your college team? The team must be treated very well – describe the setup and supports in place for the university team.

Luckily, I chose the right year to stay in DCU as we won both the league and O Connor Cup, fifth time lucky! The girls were great and the team had a great mix of counties and lots of emerging younger players so hopefully the success will be continued on next year. The support provided by DCU GAA academy was excellent in terms of facilities, food after training, grinds and gym membership. You couldn’t ask for more.

What are your hopes for intercounty this year? How are you building on last year’s success?

This year we will be hoping to win Dublin’s first ever league title and after that, we would like to go on to retain the All Ireland. Last year was a great year so we will be hoping to do the same again and keep improving as players and as a team.

Have you found it tough to combine both your studies and your sport? What are the main things that really help you to balance your time?

It was tough at times when the demands of sport and college clashed however, using the support provided by the DCU GAA academy, I was not left to fall behind in the course. As with any masters, it demanded a lot of time however, by using sport to switch off I think it helped me to approach my studies in a positive way instead of spending hours on end in the library.

How did the scholarship help you this year? Ongoing professional development etc. Are there any lessons/skills/behaviours from your studies you will bring back to your county/club/community?

The WGPA scholarship was a huge help financially this year, having a part-time job and having just completed my undergraduate degree the scholarship was one of the main factors in my decision to return to DCU. The Business School provided great supports for all athletes and Bernadette McCullough provided huge support for the GAA athletes always checking in with us and helping us out throughout the year.

Who are your biggest role models in the Gaelic games/general sporting world and why? What qualities do you admire most in the people you look up to?

I really liked Serena Williams growing up as a kid, I thought she was a great athlete and very ruthless. I could never beat my older sister at tennis and she beat Venus multiple teams which I always admired.

What advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate studies?

I would say to take the opportunity with both hands, completing this course with the support of the WGPA has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Most proud of (on or off the field): After we won last September, my 24-year-old sister decided she would come out of retirement to play football for Na Fianna again after a seven-year break, she claims I wasn’t the inspiration but…

Biggest challenge you’ve faced: Coming back from being behind to win against UL this year in the O’Connor Cup final.

3 words to describe yourself: Happy, honest, late

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