2011 Irish Fellows
Hastings College senior Kaley McInnis-Hughes thoroughly enjoyed her research project from her communication theory course.
“I was very interested in my topic and decided that I would like to continue doing research by doing an ethnography in Ireland,” the communications and sociology major from Aurora, Colo., said.
Through the Hastings College Irish Fellows program, the aspiring research director can truly pursue her passion: conducting field research, specifically on the media’s use of dominance and influence on the Irish pub.
Now in its fourth year, the competitive Irish Fellows program prods students in their junior or senior year to truly test their educational experiences to date. With the support of an advisor in their major, applicants formulate a research question and design an independent research project to explore that question.
Students selected as Irish Fellows then implement their projects while living in Lahinch, County Clare, Ireland, for a month. While in-country, local partner and Grammy Award-winning musician Davey Spillane facilitates lectures and field trips for the fellows. As for making contacts and conducting research, they are largely on their own.
“It is a big deal to get dropped off in a foreign country and complete a project, live on your own, and put together a presentation within weeks of coming home,” Danielle McDonald, a senior media production and communications major from Eden Prairie, Minn., said.
When the fellows return to campus in November, they will fulfill any remaining requirements to receive academic credit for their work.
Although McInnis-Hughes and McDonald are studying communications, by no means is the Irish Fellows program limited to communications majors. Jessica Richard, a Lincoln, Neb., native who will study the similarities and differences between the Hastings Museum and the Clare Museum in Ennis, Ireland, is junior art history and studio art major.
“I wish to pursue a career in museum studies and having the chance to learn how a museum is organized in the US and overseas is an amazing opportunity,” she said.
The program’s 21 alumni include fellows who majored in English, exercise science, and music. Psychology major Hannah Davis from Grand Island, Neb., is among the 2011 fellows as is history and religion major Meg Smith from Green Bay, Wis.
“I’ll be trying to build a digital reconstruction of a ruined cathedral in Kileforna and looking at how the Irish church was impacted by the Anglicization of Ireland,” Smith, who has been intrigued by medieval Ireland for several years, said.
In preparation for the experience, the fellows spend the first month of the 2011-2012 academic year immersed in two on-campus courses: Irish Literature with Dr. Rich Lloyd and Modern Ireland with Dr. Rob Babcock.
“Ireland always seemed like a beautiful place to visit, but after learning more about the history in my fellowship classes, I have developed so much more interest in it,” Erica Shea, a media production major with an emphasis in new media, said. The Hastings, Neb., native will create a website for Spillane.
The Irish Fellows program won’t be all work for these students. Lahinch is known as Ireland’s surfing capital and recognized as a great place to golf.
Also, as driven as McInnis-Hughes is in her field, other factors might have influenced her to apply for the fellowship. Half of her family – a grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins – lives in Ireland.
“I hope to better understand who I am,’ McInnis-Hughes said. “I hope to learn things that I otherwise could not in the States.”
For more information about the Hastings College Irish Fellows program, visit this website, designed by former fellow Will Kingery ‘11: http://cargocollective.com/hastings#640275/Video-Gallery.