Dayna Killian named as WIT’s first postgraduate Fulbright awardee

Pictured at the Fulbright awards announcement is Dayna Killian (left)

Pictured at the Fulbright awards announcement is Dayna Killian (left)

School of Humanities researcher is WIT’s first research postgraduate student to get prestigious Fulbright scholarship to go to America

Dayna Killian, a research postgraduate student at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is one of 38 people across Europe selected for a Fulbright Award to study in America.

Minister Charlie Flanagan of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Mr Reece Smyth, Chargé d’affaires of the US Embassy in Ireland, announced the new Fulbright Irish Awardees at Iveagh House last week.

Recipients include students, academics and professionals from 15 HEIs across Ireland and Europe. These Awardees will go to top US institutions to study and collaborate with experts in their field.

Performing Women: Performing the Region

A recipient of WIT’s PhD Scholarship, programme Dayna is currently a PhD candidate for the ‘Performing Women: Performing the Region’ project at WIT. This doctorate valuably seeks to recoup the work of women playwrights who wrote for the Abbey Theatre during the first 50 years of the 20th c and to contribute to the development of gender equality policy for the future of the Irish Theatre sector, a demand highlighted most recently and vigorously by the Waking the Feminists movement.

Life-changing opportunity

This prestigious award will enable Dayna to travel to the US to work with Professor Susan Cannon-Harris at Notre Dame University in order to further explore the representation of women playwrights and Irish womanhood on the Abbey stage in the first half of the 20th c. 

“Travelling to Notre Dame in Indiana this September as a Fulbright student offers me a life-changing opportunity which will offer me an opportunity to disseminate my current work on women playwrights and my work around gender policy development in the cultural sector in Ireland. I am very grateful to the Fulbright Commission for this opportunity and for all the encouragement I have received in both my professional and personal life.”

Previous achievements

Before starting out as a researcher at WIT, Dayna Killian completed her MSc at WIT in Global Financial Information Systems. Prior to this her educational achievements included a first class honours degree in Drama and Theatre studies at Liverpool Hope University.

WIT has a long history of engagement with the Fulbright initiative with four staff travelling to the US as Fulbright Scholars and welcoming three US academics to the Institute over the past four years.

Making an impact

Dr Peter McLoughlin, Vice President for Research at WIT said that the Institute is delighted that Dayna Killian has become the Institute's first research postgraduate student to receive a prestigious Fulbright scholarship.

“We are particularly delighted that Dayna as one of WIT's PhD Scholarship students has been successful in competing for this award. Dayna has excelled in her research to date having reached the final of the HEA/Irish Independent Making an Impact competition last year. WIT would like to thank the Fulbright Commission for its continued support and we wish Dayna well in her studies in the US."

Theatre studies lecturer at WIT, Dr Úna Kealy, is Dayna’s supervisor and encouraged her to apply for the Fulbright scholarship. She notes that Dayna demonstrated exceptional promise from the initial interview for the Performing the Region: Performing Women WIT PhD Scholarship.

“I know Dayna to be deeply committed to research that can inform national policy and change our society for the better. She represents the commitment and passion that WIT researchers bring to their work and will, undoubtedly, represent the Fulbright Commission with the same vigour and assurance,” Dr Kealy said.

About the Fulbright Awards

The unique nature of Fulbright Awards is that the Program encourages cultural exchange as well as educational. In addition to completing study or research projects, Awardees are tasked with being cultural Ambassadors during their time in the US. They will then return to Ireland to share the knowledge they have gained there. The rigorous application process ensures that the successful candidates are those who have conveyed how their work can have a positive impact on society.

This year the Fulbright Program celebrates 60 years of educational and cultural exchange between Ireland and the US. Since 1957, the Program has provided Irish and European citizens with the opportunity to study, research, or lecture in America, and supported US citizens to do the same in Ireland. The Program is now established in over 160 countries globally, providing a fantastic international network for Fulbright Awardees and Alumni.

Fulbright Program founder Senator J. William Fulbright said of the Program "Of all the joint ventures in which we might engage, the most productive, in my view, is educational exchange. I have always had great difficulty in trying to find the words that would persuasively explain that educational exchange is not merely one of those nice but marginal activities in which we engage in international affairs, but rather, from the standpoint of future world peace and order, probably the most important and potentially rewarding of our foreign-policy activities.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan TD said: “As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I am delighted to extend my warmest congratulations to the 38 Irish Fulbright Awardees for 2017 – 18. The Fulbright Commission plays an important role in providing reciprocal opportunities for Irish and US scholars and academics to study, work and experience life in each other’s countries.

The Chargé d’affaires Reece Smyth, US Embassy said: “I warmly congratulate the 2017-2018 cohort of Awardees. The Fulbright Awards are highly competitive, globally recognised, and associated with excellence and prestige…so this is a real accomplishment.”

Professor John Hegarty, Chair of the Board of the Fulbright Commission in Ireland said: “On this 60th anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Ireland, it is great to see the quality of students and scholars that it still attracts. Their opportunity is huge but so is their responsibility to continue Senator Fulbright’s all too relevant vision of advancing cross- cultural understanding. I know they are fully up to the challenge.”

Unwavering support

Dayna added that during the application process and subsequently following her invitation to interview she received tireless encouragement and advice from the Performing Women project supervisory team, the Research Support Unit and Fulbright Alumni in WIT.

"Indeed my postgraduate journey began in WIT in 2015 when I undertook an MSc in Global Financial Information Systems following my undergraduate degree in Liverpool Hope University," she commented.

"I have been extremely lucky throughout my education to have the unwavering support of many people including Dr Niamh Malone who has been a guiding light since my early teenage years through to the present day, supervisory support of Dr Una Kealy my lead supervisor in WIT. My parents Michael and Margaret, sisters Megan and Isabel and wider family including my nanny Joan Killian and aunties Olivia, Bernie, Catherine and Veronica have been of invaluable support in every way and for all the time and effort such a wide range of talented, expert and loving people have invested in me, I feel extremely grateful and humbled."

Related Courses

Master of Science in  Global Financial Information Systems (GFIS)
Bachelor of Arts in  Arts (Hons)

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