By Dr Sheila Cannon, Assistant Professor, Chair of Shortlisting Committee, Trinity Business Students of the Year

For 26 years running, Trinity Business School, along with the Trinity Business Alumni Association and the Bank of Ireland, has chosen and celebrated a Business Student of the Year. This individual shows excellence in all areas of college life, including academics, societies, internships, volunteering, sports and entrepreneurship. This year I had the honour and pleasure of Chairing the Shortlisting Committee for the Trinity Business Students of the year 2021.

We knew that this year’s competition had to be slightly different, as our Trinity graduating class of 2021 have spent most of their sophister years off-campus and on-line. Studying remotely during a pandemic was hugely challenging and Trinity students certainly rose to that challenge.

I consulted with student representatives from all business courses, as well as faculty and professional staff. Many felt it seemed obtuse to proceed with awards as if nothing had changed. We didn’t want to have our heads in the sand. But we did want to celebrate the wonderful achievements and excellent standard of our students in a way that acknowledged the exceptional circumstances. We decided to include a new category this year: resilience. Indeed, resilience became an important theme in the past year, as we soldiered on through lockdowns and yet another zoom meeting.

So we put out the call and asked our students to tell us about how they demonstrate excellence in academic achievement, leadership, contribution to college and society, and resilience in the face of adversity.

All of the applications blew us away. They were heartfelt and insightful. The applicants were accomplished, self-aware and impressive. We managed to select for interview five finalists who really shone, standing out from an already impressive crowd.

The interview panel consisted of Liam Booth, former President of Trinity Business Alumni Association; Fiona Hayes, Careers Consultant, Trinity Careers Service; and Professor Louis Brennan, Associate Dean of Trinity Business School. The panel selected two winners who achieved the highest standard in all criteria: Oran McVeigh Keeling and Laura Brennan.

Laura Brennan achieved a first class honours in Computer Science and Business at TCD, achieving a first in all four years of her degree and a gold medal for academic excellence. Her passion and subject of her entrepreneurial activities as well as of her final dissertation was leveraging technology to address climate change, specifically consumer behaviour and purchasing habits. She co-founded and is CEO of Ethicart, an App that helps consumers make sustainable choices, and went on to win first place at the National City Pathways to Progress programme, as well as a place on the Launchbox Accelerator Programme and the Blackstone Summer Fellowship. When the Covid pandemic thwarted attempts to pitch for funding for Ethicart, Laura pivoted towards a Trinity centred pilot programme for the App, and successfully implemented the idea across campus. Additionally, Laura taught code to first year students and played an active role in societies: Trinity Entrepreneurial Society, Enactus, and Trinity Musical Theatre Society.

Oran McVeigh Keeling earned first class honours and a gold medal for academic excellence in Management Science and Information System Studies (MSISS). During his studies he took over and ran the family business following a family tragedy, while simultaneously achieving first class honours in all four years of his studies. He excelled in the Student Managed Fund (SMF) winning ‘Sector Manager of the Year’ and organising the society’s first Impact Investing Conference. He also used his role in Irish Student Consulting Group (ISCG) to secure consulting internships for 170 students and served as Peer Support Mentor with Student2Student (S2S) to support others though bereavement. He has worked for, and continues to volunteer at Pieta House, a charity that supports those effected by mental health challenges.

Congratulations to Oran and Laura who join the ranks of most esteemed Trinity Business Alumni!

The three Finalists also demonstrated excellence in all categories (in alphabetical order):

  • Callum McDonnell served as President of Trinity Entrepreneurial Society; Head of Strategy and Growth for Irish Student Consulting Group; as well as Education Assistant at Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace. He began his degree through Trinity’s Access Programme (TAP), and earned an honours degree in Business.
  • Courtney McGrath was co-founder of Trinity Ability Co-op and has advocated for and advanced disability inclusion during her time at TCD. She earned an honours degree in Business and Sociology and served as Chairperson of Trinity Irish Sign Language Society.
  • Heloise O’Sullivan, among her many achievements, she succeeded in getting TCD lit up for Rare Disease Day 2021! She earned an honours degree in Global Business while managing her own chronic neurological condition. She served as volunteer Head Swim Instructor and Lifeguard for Water Safety Ireland.

Congratulations to the three finalists who made it to the final cut! We will be presenting them with their certificates of achievement during the Trinity Business Forum on Monday, 6th of December 2021.