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17 October 2019  


Ruth Cormican

James Millea, recipient of 2016 NUI Travelling Studentship in Music

Ruth Cormican, French Government Medal and NUI Prize for Proficiency in French in 2015 and Dr H H Stewart Literary Prize in French in 2012.


Ruth Cormican , an NUI Galway graduate, was awarded a French Government Medal and NUI Prize for Proficiency in French in 2015 and a Dr H H Stewart Literary Prize in French in 2012.


What have been the benefits to you of holding NUI awards?

For me, holding NUI awards in French has provided an invaluable recognition of my knowledge of French language, literature and culture which has enabled me to pursue various other personal and academic opportunities. The 2012 award formed part of my application to the Erasmus study abroad programme, and gave me the confidence to spend the academic year 2013-2014 at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium – my first experience of living in a francophone country. The Erasmus experience allowed me to achieve a much higher level of fluency in French and contributed to my second NUI award in French in 2015. Both awards constituted an integral part of my application for a Fulbright award in 2016, for which it was essential to demonstrate a high level of academic achievement.


"For me, holding NUI awards in French has
provided an invaluable recognition of my knowledge
of French language, literature and culture which
has enabled me to pursue various other personal
and academic opportunities."

Based on your own experience, what do you consider to be the value of studying languages at third level?

Studying languages is of enormous value to anyone interested in working in the international arena, whatever their field of expertise may be. For many positions within international institutions, fluency in more than one language is either a requirement or a significant advantage. Even where this is not the case, having the ability to communicate with colleagues in their own language is an important asset. Equally, speaking foreign languages can also improve your understanding of and proficiency in English.

For those interested in living abroad, I do not think it is possible to fully immerse yourself in the culture and society of another country without being able to speak the language. Above all else, language is a tool for communication. The more languages you speak, the more receptive you will be to new ideas and new people. Different languages reflect different points of view, different histories, different traditions: all of this makes learning a foreign language an incredibly enriching personal experience. For all of these reasons, I would strongly encourage other students to study languages at third level.

What would you consider to be your major achievements to date?

I graduated from NUIG with a B.A. in Legal Studies and French in 2015, and an LL.B. in 2016. I received first class honours for both degrees.

I was then lucky enough to receive the Fulbright-University of Notre Dame Student LL.M. Award in International Human Rights Law 2016-2017. This enabled me to pursue my LL.M. degree at Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, and I graduated from the programme in May 2017 summa cum laude and top of my class, with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. I was also named to the Dean’s Honor Roll for both semesters, and received Faculty Awards for Excellence in Transnational Corporations and Human Rights and International Environmental Law.

I am currently working on the human rights team at the Irish Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, which represents Ireland before the UN’s principal human rights bodies and mechanisms.