On International Woman’s Day 2022, I took a moment to reflect on someone who inspires me: the amazing Chairperson of Minceir Whiden Society Anne Marie Ward.
Anne Marie is currently the NUI Galway’s Student Union’s Ethnic Minorities Officer for (2021-2022) and the Minceir Whiden Society’s Chairperson (2021/2022), Minceirs Whiden Society gives us as students a safe place to come together, discuss our assignments and speak about the events that the society would like to host throughout the year.
The reason I have chosen to take a look at Anne Marie is due to all the incredible things she has done and I believe she deserves some recognition for them.
Anne Marie is the first Irish Traveller elected in NUI Galway’s Student Union and the first Irish Traveller Woman to be elected the Chairperson in the Minceir Whiden Society. I believe Anne Marie is a great role model for our community; she strives to build bridges within the University and is making a solid foundation for present Irish Travellers students and the future students. Anne Marie has a first-person experience with the struggles and barriers that Irish travellers need to overcome to attend NUI Galway.
Anne Marie is an early school leaver and completed the Access programme in 2013/2014; she is currently in her 3rd year of the BA Youth and Families which she is doing part-time. Another organization Anne Marie is a part of Glionder in Athenry. This group is a creative space for adults and youths. Glionder preforms street performances in Athenry and Galway County. Anne Marie’s daughters are both stilters and Glionder were in attendance for the opening ceremony of Irish Traveller Ethnicity Day 2022.
Anne Marie was born and raised in Galway City; she’s the third out of eight children so there’s never a boring moment in her family. She completed primary school however she did not complete her education because at that time, it was normal for Irish Traveller children to just finish primary school. Anne Marie feels that her parents instilled a good work ethic in their children and alongside that, they gave her the tools of communicating with people and being true to her identity of being an Irish Traveller woman. Anne Marie feels very lucky that she is able to read and write, she remembers watching her father express frustration because of his lack of reading skills, her mother however read for both him and her children nightly.
Anne Marie feels very fortunate in being able to return to education as a mature student through the Access Programme in NUI Galway. When asked advice Anne Marie would give the future students she said:
‘Do not panic when obstacles and barriers are placed in your way. You are going to meet some amazing people on your travels and bring a wealth of knowledge to those you engage with. You can do whatever you put your mind to.’