Barry McLaughlin studied BSc Hons Environmental Science with DPP at our Coleraine campus and graduated in June 2021.
Barry's story is an incredibly inspiring one.
Read on and discover the opportunities that are available when you study at Ulster University.
Born and raised on a small island off the Coast of Donegal along the Wild Atlantic Way, I have grown-up immersed in some of the country’s most spectacular wildlife spectacles.
With a vast wilderness at my front door - it was inevitable that I would become mesmerized by the natural world in all its glory.
However, I have also witnessed first-hand, the accelerating loss of biodiversity and the alternation of ecological patterns resulting from climate change. Seeing the complexities of how a growing human population impacts the natural world.
It is through this perspective which has sparked my ultimate goal of pursuing a lifelong career dedicated to environmental protection.
With this goal at heart, I pursued my undergrad at Ulster University in Environmental Sciences and spent the last four years leading the youth voice on sustainability, climate action and environmental protection - gaining national and international recognition.
I became a keynote speaker at world youth events and was elected as Ireland’s Climate Ambassador 2020. I was also listed in the 'Top 50 Citizen Scientists' from over 140,000 applicants in over 200 countries worldwide by Ocean Conservancy in 2019.
Conservation and Environmental Projects
During my degree, I have volunteered for numerous conservation and environmental projects with Inch Wildfowl Reserve, the British Trust for Ornithology, Birdwatch Ireland, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. And alongside my final year studies, I teamed up with 7 young professionals from around the world who I met online and together we Co-Founded a global youth-led NGO called Earth Action Hub.
A movement which aims to bridge the gap between generations, cultures and the global North and South for sustainability. In May 2021, our team launched a 3-day online festival with 52 events, 100 keynote speakers and over 2,200 participants from over 100 countries worldwide! The event was a major success and received official partnerships from the Foundation for Environmental Education, Force Weavers, UNICEF, UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme and +46 other world leading organisations.
My Time At UU
My time at Ulster has been incredible! I am proud to have graduated with a 1st class in Environmental Sciences at the Ulster University with a Distinction in my Diploma in Professional Practice.
I was also awarded the EDGE Excel Award by Ulster University for completing over 27 extra-curricular activities, and awarded the Convocational Undergraduate of the Year Award for outstanding student achievement.
I’m truly thankful for all the support, guidance and encouragement I have received during my time at Ulster.
From the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, and particularly from the Employability and Careers Hub who helped enhance my employability, confidence, and both my personal and professional development.
Studying at Southwest Minnesota State University
My most memorable time at Ulster was in 2019, when I was selected as one of five students for the opportunity to represent Ulster through the UU GoGlobal - Cultural Inclusion Program at Southwest Minnesota State University, USA. This experience was truly life-changing and gave me the goal to pursue my masters in the USA.
My degree in Environmental Sciences is a multidisciplinary academic field that integrates the sciences of biology, chemistry, physics, geography, oceanography, geology, meteorology, ecology and information systems; and applies them to the study of the environment, and to the solution of environmental problems.
This degree with the academic expertise at Ulster, granted me with strong theoretical knowledge of environmental and sustainable concepts, alongside expert research and data analysis skills. This degree also supported academic study with fieldtrip research, giving me opportunities to explore Ulster through an interdisciplinary lens.
I also had the opportunity to take part in a summer Environmental Field School in the Algarve, Portugal, with the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences.
A Future in California
Following graduation, I will be pursuing my Masters in Development Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, as a triple scholar! Being identified as one of the most academically talented students from the Island of Ireland, I was selected as a George Moore Scholar. I was then awarded the UC Berkeley Blum Centre Scholarship and won the 2021 Finduddannelse.dk Sustainability Scholarship Essay. I am truly excited to pursue this next chapter of my life in California and thankful to Ulster for helping me follow my dreams!
My Advice for Future Students
Your time at University will fly in – so make the most of it! Have an open mind and take advantage of every opportunity. Make sure to try new things, meet new people and explore everything!
For me, engaging with the Employability & Careers Hub, UU GoGlobal and the Students Union made the biggest difference and truly made my time at Ulster memorable!