A UL student has become the first Irish Traveller to graduate with a PhD this week.
Dr. Sindy Joyce was among 1,715 students who graduated from the University on Monday, and has been described as “a great role model and an inspiration” for the travelling community.
Joyce received her PhD from UL’s Department of Sociology, with a thesis examining how young Travellers' movements are shaped by their ethnicity and by anti-Traveller racism.
According to the Irish Examiner, Martin Collins, Co-Director of Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, said her research “gives important visibility to the Traveller perspective, in this case, the perspective of young Travellers in Galway”.
He went on:
"Travellers, down through the years, have often been researched and documented – but usually by people outside our community. It is an important step for Travellers that we have our own academics who can decide what is important from a research point of view – and what is ethical in carrying out this research.”
“Her hard work and determination in her studies show that all Travellers are missing are the opportunities to succeed."
Dr Joyce, a "committed human rights defender", received a number of awards during her time at UL including an Irish Research Council postgraduate scholarship, and the University of Limerick FAHSS Dean’s Scholarship, and AHSS Registrar’s Scholarship Award.
The Limerick native said that she is "really proud to be the first in the Mincéir (Traveller) community to receive a doctorate", but that it's "sad that it’s taken until 2019 for it to happen".
She added that, "Things are often ten times harder for us.
"So we know that when we go out into the world and do something like this, we are representing the whole community - whether we like it or not."
Dr Joyce was in good company on Monday, as Bob Geldof and Marian Keyes were also presented with honorary doctorates at the ceremony.