Dearbhla Curtin-Tully, a Master of Teaching student at the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle in Western Australia, has received this year’s Helen Lombard Award for her outstanding service to the university and the wider community.
The Award, established in 2000 in honour of Sister Helen Lombard, a former University Governor and past Congregational Leader of the Good Samaritan Sisters, is presented annually to a female student who has made an outstanding contribution to student leadership and the advancement of the Catholic mission and goals of the University.
Since arriving in Australia from Ireland a few years ago and enrolling in the Master of Teaching (Secondary) degree, Dearbhla has been involved in a number of service-oriented initiatives within the university and wider community.
In 2016 she was elected Vice President of the Notre Dame Education Society and is this year its President. In this capacity, she and an organising committee have planned a range of fundraising events for charity and professional development initiatives for education students.
Since 2016, Dearbhla has also been a peer mentor for students on campus.
Beyond the University, Dearbhla volunteers with the Smith Family to create numeracy sample plans for their homework clubs, and is currently creating an online tutorial video for new tutors and coordinators. She also works at the Telethon Community Cinema at Burswood, donating her wage to the Edmund Rice Camps Program for 2017.
During her first year in Australia, Dearbhla spent time in Sri Lanka, volunteering as an English language teacher. It was here that Dearbhla realised how much she enjoyed teaching and wanted to pursue it as a career.
Dearbhla said receiving the Helen Lombard Award was “a big surprise”.
“I was really shocked and actually not a little uncomfortable about the spotlight being put on me for this award really, because I didn’t feel like I was doing anything special, particularly,” explained Dearbhla.
“I’m the type of person who always needs to be on the go, so I generally have a few different projects going on at once.”
Dearbhla is very pleased to have received the award – “it honestly means an awful lot” – especially given she is a relatively new member of the community in Fremantle.
“You’re never doing these sort of things to get noticed or to get recognition; it’s just something that I kind of do,” she said.
“It [receiving the award] makes me feel such a massive part of the community. It makes me feel connected in a way that I didn’t realise that I needed.”
She also sees the award as a valuable way to draw attention to the issues and organisations in which she is involved.
Dearbhla recently received her award at the University of Notre Dame’s Annual Awards Ceremony in Fremantle, an event which recognises the achievements of incoming and current students, as well as graduates who have achieved academic excellence and made a positive contribution in their communities.
Attending the ceremony on behalf of the Good Samaritan Sisters were Sisters Jill O’Brien and Margaret Malone, who live and minister in Western Australia.
Once Dearbhla finishes her Master of Teaching at the end of this year, she is keen to find a teaching position where she can use her range of skills and experiences to “help as many students as possible”.