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Aodhán Roberts, first year Cinematic Arts student at Ulster’s Magee campus, has been awarded two prestigious awards: the Diana Legacy Award and a Royal Television Society Bursary Scholarship.

The Diana Legacy Award is one of the most prestigious accolades a young person can receive for their social action or humanitarian work. Along with 19 other changemakers from around the world, Aodhán received the award for overcoming personal barriers in his life and the work he has done within the community.

In 2019, Aodhán lost his grandmother, his mother’s partner and his own mother in just a few months. At the age of 17, Aodhán found himself on his own, with no legal guardian or financial stability. But he refused to let these tragedies crush him. It was while studying creative media in college that he created ‘Derry Footage’ that gave him a chance to create a sense of community and togetherness in Derry and share untold stories that deserved greater attention.

In 2019, he released the short film ‘Impairment’ to bring attention to the recurrent problem of drink-driving and was shortlisted in several film festivals. In 2020, he released ‘Overcoming adversity as a community’ which showcases the unique sense of community in Derry and how we can pull together during times of crisis.

For Aodhán, filmaking is his job, his education and his happiness. Being a Derry local, the Cinematic Arts course at Magee was an obvious choice,

“The Magee campus is just around the corner and it was important for me to stay local. The Cinematic Arts course is one of the top rated film courses in the UK and has everything I need to help me succeed in my chosen career path. To be studying and collaborating in this hub of creative people from so many diverse backgrounds is a dream come true.”

Aodhán didn’t take the traditional route to university and indeed was withdrawn from mainstream schooling for a number of years. However, thanks to the proper support and guidance he was able to finish school with 9 GCSEs and progressed to the North West Regional College where he studied Creative Media, graduating with triple distinction. He hopes his story can inspire other young people in similar situations,

“I have had a difficult time in terms of education due to a number of personal circumstances but I am so proud to have overcome this obstacles and to be studying my dream course. My message to other young people out there is to never give up, to keep trying and make your dreams a reality. Filmmaking is my passion and this prestigious Royal Television Society Bursary Scholarship will help and support me to become a better filmmaker. Thanks to a mentor and network of current and former scholars I will be able to build up contacts in the industry and hopefully collaborate on lots of exciting projects.”

The Royal Television Society (RTS) Bursary Scholarship will support Aodhán financially with £1000 per academic year of study as well as providing free RTS membership, access to events and an industry mentor working in his chosen field.

Jim Curran, Cinematic Arts Course Director at Ulster University commented,

“The Cinematic Arts team is absolutely delighted for Aodhán on achieving these two prestigious awards. He is a great role model for any young person who wishes to pursue a third level education degree. We look forward to continue working with and helping Aodhán achieve his BSc in Cinematic Arts, I have no doubt he will flourish here.”