Ulster University has been celebrating the success of their 2018 graduates at the Magee campus this week.
Local man, Gary McDermott, was among those awarded a first class honours B.Sc. Degree in Physical Activity, Exercise and Health.
In September, he will undertake pioneering research which will focus on improving the health of people with intellectual disabilities through exercise and physical activity.
The focus of Gary’s research was inspired by his late uncle Martin who had Down’s Syndrome.
Gary said:“From spending time with Martin, I saw at first-hand the lack of opportunities he had to participate in physical activities which many of us take for granted. I knew that I wanted to do something that would positively improve the lives of others like him.
“The research I am undertaking will focus on developing programmes which will widen access for those with intellectual disabilities, toparticipate in physical activities helping to decrease the risk of developing long term health conditions.”
Gary will be the first Sport and Exercise Research Institute Ph.D. student on the Magee campus and credits the decision to study at Magee as the key reason for achieving such high marks.
“While studying at Magee I received great support and it quickly became very clear that there was an open-door policy with staff who were always there to help. I don’t think I would have benefitted from the academic opportunities available without the help of my lecturers and course directors.”
During his studies, Gary received the Robert Clarke Award from The Physiological Society as he had participated in a cultural exchange programme in Beijing where he learned to speak Mandarin Chinese.
He also represented Ulster University at the international SEVT Conference in the United States which brings together students,sports and industry leaders.
Gary was also the recipient of the Ulster Edge Excel Award in recognition of textra-curricular activities he completed alongside his degree.
JACK HITS THE RIGHT NOTE
IN MUSIC AND IRISH
Meanwhile, local folk music sensation Jack Warnock graduated with a first class honours degree in Music and Irish.
In fact, it has been quite a year for Jack who was nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Music Award 2018.
“When I found out that I had been nominated for Radio 2’s Young Folk Music Award, I was over the moon! It was a great experience and a real honour to take my place alongside leading names in the folk scene.”
Jack has loved music from a young age and he started playing the piano at the age of seven. He has already established a name for himself performing in ‘dream venues’ such as the National Concert Hall, Dublin and the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Jack said he received ‘tremendous support’ during his studies at Ulster University.
“I chose to study for a Degree in Irish with Music because I always enjoyed learning and speaking Irish. When performing I also sing in Irish which garners a great response from the audience and adds another dimension to my performances. After discovering there was a course based at the Magee campus, on the two subjects I loved, I couldn’t resist!
He said the staff at UU understood the difficulties of balancing a music career while studying full-time.
Since completing his studies Jack has been focusing on pursuing his music career.
“I am working on some exciting projects in music and have been in the studio recording some new material with a new trio that I am part of. It’s always go, go, go!”