DONEGAL student, Catherine (Katie) Mellett from Gartan is “shocked” to have been announced as the first recipient of the Irish Times Mary Maher Bursary.
As part of the bursary, the 19-year-old, who has just started her degree in journalism at DCU, will have her fees paid for the duration of the course.
She will receive financial support for accommodation as well as paid placements with The Irish Times during college holidays.
She will be mentored throughout her studies by a senior Irish Times journalist and when she successfully completes her studies she will be offered a fixed-term contract with the newspaper.
Katie said she was made aware of the bursary during a school assembly on her last day of school in Loreto, Letterkenny.
“Until then I had never heard of a bursary that was so niche to a specific subject,” she said.
Throughout school Katie always loved English and had a massive interest in the world around her.
She said she was very fortunate as she has always known she wanted to be a journalist, she completed her transition year work experience with the Donegal News in 2019.
“We always had a paper in the house, it almost always was the Donegal News or the Sunday papers, so it nearly just became a habit,” she said.
Katie was shortlisted for an interview in August. The interview took place in the Irish Times building in Dublin, the panel included deputy editor Deirdre Veldon and journalist Conor Pope. She said it was “surreal” to be sat in front of them.
“Conor Pope was a face I would have known and seen so often, I walked into the room and he was there and I thought “Oh my God”- that was such an amazing experience in itself,” she said.
Weeks had passed by and she had not received any follow-up, she had already started her studies in DCU when she got the phone call. Katie was “completely shocked”.
Katie is currently working hard on her college assignments and said that the bursary has been a great push.
She is very excited to get started with The Irish Times and is looking forward to working with a mentor who can teach her the ropes.
The Mary Maher Bursary was created to help students from backgrounds under-represented in the media and who might also face challenges in achieving a degree in journalism.
The bursary was created in memory of the late Mary Maher, a journalist with The Irish Times who died last year.
Mary Maher worked with the Irish Times for over thirty years and was well known for her work as a trade unionist, feminist and social justice activist.