Posted on Jun 14, 2020
Ciara McHugh was the District 6270 Global Grant Scholar for 2018-2019. She is approaching her third year of a Ph.D. research program and has been instrumental in establishing a new Rotaract Club at her graduate school, Queen’s University Belfast. Following is her report.

" Early in the year, a group came together with the intention of creating a Rotaract chapter in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We were from a variety of disciplines, a range of countries, and each were introduced to Rotary in different ways. After a number of late-night brainstorming sessions at QUB's [Queen’s University Belfast’s] cafe (pre-lockdown, of course), we allocated board positions and made plans to get a Queen's University Belfast Rotaract Club off the ground.

"Theo, a Belfast native and active Interactor, was chosen as president; Veja, who is from Slovakia, volunteered her experiences from her Scottish Rotaract days as Outreach chair; Anna, a Global Grant scholar from Wisconsin, became secretary; and I volunteered as treasurer.

"Over the last few months, we've had to adjust our approaches and strategies to adapt to pandemic conditions. But, with ongoing support from the Belfast Rotary Club, our bi-weekly Zoom calls are full of the same energy and enthusiasm as those first brainstorming sessions. I'm pleased to say that our members have kept busy: with social distanced volunteering at Age-NI, donating energy bars to frontline and hospital workers, engaging with local racial-justice organizations, and organizing an online charity quiz to raise money for local pandemic efforts.

"I'm honored to be a part of such an encouraging and engaged group of Rotaractors, and I look forward to expanding our outreach in the years to come."


Anna DeWitt (the 2019-2020 GG Scholar from RI District 6220) is from Appleton, WI, and is shown in the photo holding the Appleton Rotary Club banner (mirror image on their Zoom meeting). Ciara McHugh, for whom Elmbrook Rotary served as local Rotary liaison during her 2018-2019 GG Scholarship, is holding a Whitnall Park Rotary Club banner. Clearly, the RI Global Grant Scholarship program, the Interact clubs, and Rotary clubs throughout the world are having an impact in these days of COVID-19 (and beyond).

Interestingly, Ciara's Ph.D. research is focusing on "how to ameliorate strained relationships between police and minority communities, specifically through visual technologies, and the ways in which gender paradigms can help overcome barriers between the two groups."

Congratulations, Ciara, on your continued involvement in Rotary! Keep on keeping on!