Pictured is University of Limerick President Professor Mey presenting to her son Ben Reddy. Pic Arthur Ellis.
University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey had the privilege of conferring her son at this year’s UL graduations
University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey had the best location to watch her son graduate this Thursday as she was on stage to hand him his parchment.
Professor Kerstin Mey had the extremely rare dual role as both the senior officiating academic and proud mum at today’s graduation ceremony.
Professor Mey spoke of her immense pride as her son, Ben Reddy, was conferred by his mum with a BSc in Exercise and Health Fitness Management from the School of Physical Education and Sports Sciences in UL’s Faculty of Education and Health Sciences, this Thursday afternoon.
The President’s son is among over 3,500 students graduating from University of Limerick this week.
“I am extremely excited this week because I am the proud mum of a son who is graduating from UL,” Professor Mey had said ahead of the ceremony this Thursday afternoon.
“I think my son is both excited and apprehensive to take part in the ceremonies – he will see me handing out the parchments but also, I don’t think that his peers know that he is my son,” she said with a laugh.
Speaking to the graduating students during her conferring address, Professor Mey acknowledged: “Graduands, today is a day that has us filled with pride and joy as we celebrate the culmination of your academic journey at University of Limerick.
“On a personal note, today I am doubly proud and doubly nervous because my son is part of the graduating class here this afternoon.”
Professor Mey continued in her address to the assembled graduates: “The road to this moment has not been without challenges. You have faced the pressures of assessments, the sleepless nights spent pouring over textbooks and tasks, and the countless hours devoted to research and study. But let me remind you that it is precisely through these trials that you have honed your skills, strengthened your character, and developed a true understanding of the subjects you have studied and acquired more insights about yourself as well.
“Remember that life’s most valuable lessons are often learned in the crucible of adversity.”
Prior to coming to UL in 2018, Professor Mey held the role of Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, and Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at the University of Westminster, London.
Growing up in England, her son Ben played soccer from an early age before taking up basketball, which he played at under 18s national league level. Having completed A-Levels in Geography, Business and German, he took a year out to decide what to do next.
“I realised that I didn’t want to do theory-based subjects. I wanted something that got me on my feet and engaged with people and that’s where my passion for fitness came in,” Ben explained.
Around the same time, Ben’s mum had taken up the post of Vice President Academic Affairs and Student Engagement and Professor of Visual Culture at University of Limerick.
“I decided to have a look around back home in the UK and see what the options were to get qualified in fitness, but the options weren’t anything to that of what UL had to offer,” Ben recalled.
UL stood out to him for its endless list of sports facilities from the athlete testing rooms and rugby pitches, to the UL Arena with its gym, 50-meter pool and four basketball courts which he calls “a bit like heaven for the sports enthusiast”.
Ben chose the BSc in Exercise and Health Fitness Management where, in the first three years, students are provided with a variety of exercise and fitness qualifications. The final year of the course is interfaculty, offering modules in areas such as business, marketing, human resources and multi-media.
“The set-up of the course is really useful in terms of getting your eggs in multiple baskets because you are taught a wide variety of transferrable skills – not just fitness instructing and strength and conditioning, it is also about business and how to do a business plan, and modules like operations management, so you understand how you can structure a business to work towards your goals,” he explained.
Ben, who turns 24 this September, is currently working as a fitness trainer in Limerick. He was able to explore one of his own career goals in his final year project.
“I put together a business plan for a mobile fitness business – effectively having a gym in the back of a van and being able to go into public parks or a person’s house and bring personal training and strength and conditioning directly to individuals and clubs. It’s not really been done before, so I thought I’ll give it a go and see what happens.”
And on his time in University of Limerick with his mum as President, Ben said: “I am extremely proud of everything that she is doing – that motivates me to keep pushing on and try and do as much as I can for myself. I hope to be able to carry the torch myself at some point, in my own right, in my own career.”