Mutual inspiration: Verona and Mary
To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, female academics and students describe what they most admire in each other.
Dr Verona Ni Drisceoil, Lecturer in Law
Mary first came to Sussex on the Sussex Study ‘Law’ Experience (SSE), which I facilitate alongside my colleague Marie Hutton, as part of the Widening Participation Law Programme.
It was in 2014 and I remember Mary having lots of drive and enthusiasm. It was clear to me that she was passionate about her studies and wanted to pursue a law degree. She just needed some confidence building, and someone to say to her, ‘Yes, you are able to do this’.
Through the SSE programme I have become an informal mentor to Mary but I also now work alongside Mary, who is now a widening participation ambassador.
Mary started her law degree at Sussex in 2015, when I was a still a new lecturer, and I feel that we have been following a path of growth together.
There are still a lot of obstacles and challenges for women, particularly from my perspective as a young female academic. You feel you have to prove yourself.
What I have loved seeing in Mary is how she has embraced growth, not just in her studies but in the extra curricula activities within the School of Law, Politics and Sociology too. She excelled in our annual client interviewing competition, going to represent Sussex in the national final in 2017.
Mary is passionate, capable and has a drive to succeed - I know that Mary will go on and do great things in this world.
Mary Iyi, final-year law student
I feel like if I have any questions, I can go to Verona. She has provided me with all that extra support that I needed. I am a First Generation Scholar and, although I knew I wanted to go to university, I didn’t really know what it was about.
I moved here from Nigeria when I was in Year Nine, and the education system was different. When I came down on the Sussex Study Experience programme I thought, yeah, this is great. We went on trips to law courts. It helped me to see how law affects every aspect of our lives.
Verona has been awarded several of the University’s teaching awards and is currently shortlisted for Oxford University Press Law Teacher of the Year 2018, and I can see why. Not only is she passionate about her subject, she also encourages her students to think outside the box and to challenge themselves.
As a WP ambassador, I’ve really enjoyed working with Verona. She has been a great role model to me and to the other students. She has certainly helped me to believe in myself.