By Fintan Walsh for the Limerick Leader
KELLY Hadfield is now reaching for the stars following her graduation at University of Limerick, thanks to the sage advice of her uncle, the world-famous Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
She and 166 fellow students have made their giant leap this week at the summer conferring ceremony at the Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS).
And speaking after the ceremony, she spoke of how she was inspired by her uncle, adding that UL was a “life-changing experience”.
She said that the success of Hadfield’s three missions to space “normalises extraordinary accomplishments” and that she was able to achieve so much while studying medicine at UL, having grown up with the astronaut in Toronto.
“Uncle Chris has been a very big supporter of my life and his brother – my dad – and my mom are both here today. From a young age I always wanted to help people and I always felt a really instinctive drive to always help people and I always wanted to be a doctor, but the influence of Chris came in to ‘don’t just be a doctor if you want to make any change in the world, you have to reach big, really plan and work for any scenario and honestly you can make anything happen’.
“I am really proud of the influence he has had on my life in my capacity to create change because that’s what I think physicians should do is to create change to improve the health and well-being of their communities,” Ms Hadfield said this Tuesday.
GEMS has conferred more than 1,000 medical students to date – 931 and 103 paramedics – and the class of 2019 includes graduates in surgery and paramedic studies.
This year’s summer conferring also saw graduates in midwifery, guidance counselling, sports psychology and sports performance.
Speaking at the ceremony, UL president Dr Des Fitzgerald said that university life can be challenging, but character building.
“Overcoming those challenges, helping those in need and continuing your efforts in your chosen field will bring you great rewards as this cohort of students will join the previous graduates of GEMS who are making a difference on the frontline of medicine in Ireland and overseas by taking their skills, knowledge and learning and putting them to great use in supporting a healthy society.”