This Clinical Science Gold Medal for Community Contribution is being awarded for a second year and is sponsored by the CKI. The medal is awarded to the student who has demonstrated a long-term commitment and positive contribution to community and society. A native of Cloughleigh, Co. Clare, Melanie first travelled to Nepal to volunteer seven years ago. During her time at NUI Galway, she established her own university society, Draíocht, to generate funds to build an orphanage for the children of Nepal where she is currently working on improving the lives of these children. Since its establishment, Draíocht has founded a primary and secondary school in Nepal, providing free education to over 700 students. Melanie, through her work with Draíocht, also helped to construct buildings for locals to set up their own businesses and organised health camps, including dental camps and women and child health check-up camps. She also set up another charity TEAM Nepal, which she runs with a friend. In 2010 Melanie was named as one of Ireland's Outstanding Young People of the Year, before being selected by the Junior Chamber International as one of their JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World.
Lorraine McIlrath, Co-ordinator of NUI Galway's CKI, said: "CKI at NUI Galway is delighted to support and honour the outstanding contribution to community that Melanie has made during her time at NUI Galway. She has not only established a very ethical community based organisation in Nepal but has also involved many of her peers in the activity. Melanie is the ideal graduate citizens who will go on to impact upon society in the most positive way."
Dr Gerard Flaherty, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Medicine and Medical Education at NUI Galway, said: "The School of Medicine, NUI Galway is delighted to honour the outstanding societal contribution of Melanie Hennessy in establishing the Draíocht charity. Melanie is an exemplar of the well rounded student we wish to cultivate at NUI Galway, a student who is diligent in her studies, but maintains a healthy work-life balance while humbly applying her considerable talents and skills in the service of other less fortunate people. I know that Melanie's remarkable work has inspired many of her peers and this gold medal is fitting recognition of her efforts."