Sarah Anne Fitzgerald returned to Waterford Institute of Technology this year on a postgraduate scholarship to complete the MBs Marketing. We caught up with her to hear how it’s been going.

Sarah Anne Fitzgerald

Laois and Waterford I.T.

Age: 25

Club: Camross

Current Education Course: MBs Marketing

Previous Course Studied: Exercise & Health Studies

Part time work: Maldron Hotel Portlaosie.

WIT vs DCU 2 SAF4Sarah on – going back to postgraduate study:

When I finished up my under grad course in 2013, I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do. So I took the summer off and decided to work away and think about a career in September. Well summer break turned into a 2 year break! I was applying away for jobs but I felt not having a business degree was holding me back. It was January 2015 that I started to think about going back to college, I done a bit of research on various courses all mainly part time because I was very reluctant about giving up full time work. But I saw the Master Programme in WIT online and spoke to a few people related and who completed the course and got their feedback and they all recommended it. My decision was made easier knowing that it was a one year course and the fact that it was in Waterford too. Just the simple things as knowing my way around the place, knowing how the system worked and knowing a few people down there made a huge difference so on that front choosing WIT was a no brainier. I didn’t fancy being the fresher again not knowing anybody or getting lost on campus!

Sarah on – her course:

My course is great and my classmates are even better. We have great craic up in the post grad room in the library! We are only after returning from a trip to Brussels where we had a module to complete in 5 days it was tough going but overall a fantastic trip! We were fortunate enough to have classes with some internationally renowned lectures and got to meet some of our Irish MEPs such as Nessa Childers, Deirdre Cloon and Sean Kelly in the EU Parliament.

But it’s not all fun and games either the work has to be done too! I wouldn’t say this course is as intense as my undergrad because I would have less hours this time round but saying that too if you don’t keep on top of the work things can get hectic.  I was very apprehensive about doing a masters in business having not done business since my Leaving Cert but thankfully this hasn’t held me back it just meant I had to work that little bit extra at it. Taking the break out after my undergrad and then returning to college was a blessing in disguise. I returned second time round a lot wiser and more mature about everything.

Sarah on – the next step:

This sounds like my mother! At this moment I’m up in the air, I’ll see where the road take me. This course has thought me a lot of skills that hopefully will pay off in the long run and hopefully in a few years I will be working as a marketing executive making lots of money!Sean Kelly - SarahAnne Fitzgerald1

Sarah on – the year with W.I.T. Camogie:

It was great to get back playing Ashbourne again. It’s a fantastic competition that gets little recognition and the camogie association needs to promote the competition more because aside from the All Ireland finals in September it’s Camogie’s biggest stage where some of the best camogie players are on display. Just take a look at this year’s final, what a thrilling encounter it was and there was no national media attention. Take a look at TG4 and all they have done for ladies football and the O’Connor cup. It has transcended their game and in particular to the O’Connor Cup where TG4 has provided excellent coverage for a number of years now. There is a definite niche in the market for a television station to showcase more camogie on our television screens.

Within Waterford we are looked after so well. It’s a very professional set up that the club has in place. Anything we need is provided for us and the support is ongoing after Ashbourne, if we need help with college the club will go out of their way to help you out. Special mention to Conor Phelan our development officer (and class mate of mine) he doing a fantastic job in running the GAA club. It was the same back in my undergrad days and the cultural has continued to present. Have to say Helena Jacob brought the camogie club to where it is now. She developed a cultural over the years and made us a force. She changed the way girls perceived college camogie and despite the fact she is no longer involved with the club all the work she has done is still felt.

Group Photo Outside EU - SAF2However though it was very disappointing year for us.  We put in a huge effort but we just fell up short against a very good UL team. We had a great team and management team in Ann Downey, Paddy Mullally, Conor Phelan and Jacqui O’Connor in place who also made a lot of sacrifices that didn’t go unnoticed by the panel (we had great banter on the WhatsApp group with Ann!!) But on the day we can have no complaints we were beaten by the better team. The only issue I had over the weekend was the condition of the football pitch in Ballyhaunis!! 

Sarah on – Laois Camogie 2016:

We are finally up intermediate this year thank god!! Last year was fantastic and left us with memories that will not be forgotten but that’s in the past now.  We know it’s going to be challenge stepping up a grade but Division 2 league has shown us for the past 3 years that we are capable of competing with everyone in the grade. So interesting times lie ahead and I’m looking forward to the summer months when the ground hardens up.

Sarah on – balancing the dual career:

As I said previously if you don’t keep on top of your studies it can all get very hectic. There are times when it is tough but it’s all about time management. I think you have to find the right time for you to do the work, for me it’s between the hours of 9-6 after that I zone out of college work and find it very difficult to do any form of work but then there is some people in my class who work their best in the night, so it’s about finding the right balance that suits you. I’m constantly working off deadlines so I know when I have to have the work done which helps. This time of year is quite busy with exams and assignments all approaching so camogie is taking a back seat at the moment. You have to prioritise and be practical about it all because at the end of the day you can play camogie all summer whereas with college there is only a few weeks left to go.

Sarah on – sporting heroes:

I’m a massive Serena Williams fan. I just love how she deals with the pressure of having to win every ball every time she steps onto court. I love her raw power, passion and attitude she has to the sport at this stage in her career. I really hope she does go on to beat Steffi Graff’s record and with all the recent revelations of late involving Sharapova, tennis needs a good positive story.

Closer to home I always admire Briege Corkery. Her attitude and dedication to both codes are just incredible. She is a real engine to both teams and is a person that every player/manager would love to have on their team.WIT vs DCU SAF3 

Sarah on – her W.I.T. / WGPA scholarship support:

Scholarship provided fantastic support for me. The financial support was great and was a big reason as to why I could return to full time education. It’s great to know that there is an organisation there for us women in sport and that we have a voice that is being heard. Special mention to the WIT scholarship programme who included me as one of their own despite the fact I’m not on their official programme. They too provide excellent services for their athletes which is great to have on campus.

Sarah on – advice for anyone thinking of applying for a postgraduate scholarship:

Go for it! It was the best decision I made. The support and services are there now provided by the WGPA so why not avail of it.

Sarah on – her proudest moments:

Winning 4 Ashbourne Medals (2010-2013) and in particular ‘13 final still get goose bumps thinking about that match.

Winning All Ireland with Laois last year.

Leading the Laois team out onto Croke Park in 2013, incredible feeling running out under the tunnel and leading a fantastic bunch of players.

Sarah on – herself (in 3 words):

Determined, Driven and Dedicated.

WGPA members can apply for a series of postgraduate scholarships ahead of each academic year, more info will be available at #BehindThePlayer.