Seán Lynch - An Award Winning And Inspirational Student Of UL

Seán Lynch is a fourth year Journalism and New Media Student in UL. He is also Co-President of our LGBTQ+ society Out in UL, which recently won Society of the Year 2017. In addition, Seán won the Mike Sadlier UL Societies Outstanding Achievement Award 2017 for the amazing work he has done in the college.  Seán took some time to speak to us about his college life, growing up in a rural town in Kerry, what motivates him to achieve these things  and reflects on his time studying at UL.


HC: How do you describe yourself?

SL: Driven, Organised, Fashionable and Helpful

HC: How did you find growing up in rural Kerry?

SL: “I am from a small village in Kerry called Causeway and it is very different from UL. Being from a very small village you know everyone and everyone knows you and you can’t always be yourself.”

Despite being openly gay in UL,  he never really came out at home because of the small community he lived in.

HC: Do you think that rural way of life is changing?

SL: “I think social media has changed that a lot, like Twitter or Tumblr for instance gives people access to other people’s points of view, other people’s world views, like people of colour, people of other genders, sexualities which I would have only seen at university but people who are growing up now get to see that more and more.”

Seán believes the idea of intersectionality is becoming bigger even in the place he lived, which he would have considered very monoculture because they didn’t have access to the internet from a younger age.

HC: Do you think University is different to the community you come from?

SL: “Hugely, you can choose where you go and who you get involved with clubs and societies and your course, and there are loads of different types of people you may not encounter otherwise”

Seán thinks that because of the massive number of people in University you will get to know and mix with loads of different types of people and push yourself to get to know people you wouldn’t have usually gotten involved with.

HC: On that note, what has your experience with clubs and societies been like?

SL: “ I joined Out in UL, the LGBTQ+ Society, when I was in first year and with that came a lot of different perspectives. I didn’t know anyone who was out as gay, let alone queer, bi, trans etc. which was a bit daunting at first because I didn’t know a lot of the terms and people’s experiences”.

Seán got to join the committee in second year and saw that as an opportunity to become more educated, supportive and showcase the LGBTQ+ and straight communities together. He also got involved in ULFM and thought that was good to get to know new people.

SL: “I think the biggest thing with clubs and societies is getting to know people”.

Seán would advise people to get involved in clubs and societies they usually wouldn’t get involved with. For example, he got involved with rowing in first year which wasn’t for him but he’s glad he did.

HC: Congratulations on the recent awards that you and Out in UL have received. Tell us how winning the award felt? Do you think it shows that the work the society does is having an impact?

SL: This is the second time that Out in UL has won Best Society in my time involved. Last time, it was the eyar of the marriage referendum and this shows that we haven’t slacked off since! We have really tried to give UL LGBTQ+ students who need it a safe space in which to explore their gender or sexuality, get to know others like them and grow from that. We also have had many campaigns, some focused on giving information to straight people so we’re really making a positive impact.

HC: The Mike Sadlier Overall Achievement in UL Societies’ Award is a massive achievement. Were you expecting the win? How did that achievement feel?

SL: I was honestly shocked at winning the award, but it really is on the back of working hard for things I’m passionate about. It was tough being involved in Out in UL originally when I wasn’t even out to everyone but to have come from that to helping lead the society, grow its space for members to feel comfortable and push beyond our members into far-reaching campaigns and events is massive. I just have a drive to do things for the better and help people, whether it’s with their own work or grow themselves along the way.

HC: What motivates you?

SL: “A lot of different things. Firstly, issues and things that I care about. For example, the marriage referendum. I really cared about the introduction of same sex marriage in Ireland, so what motivated me was the want for real change in our society. I go to protests a  lot. I’ve been to one’s against student fees, repealing the 8th amendment, pride marches. They all want change on a wider scale, and then I kind of tone it back down for instance to LGBTQ+ issues or whatever I care about on campus”

Seán says what motivates him in Journalism is the want to try loads of different things like social media, radio, as well as the desire to tell stories and interview interesting people.

HC: Who’s your idol?

SL: “There’s a lot of people I looked up to in my life but in a lot of ways  they fail, for example Panti Bliss, around the marriage referendum I saw a lot of positive things about Panti but with time I’d see other views and also the privilege that they have had and they wouldn’t really show that so after time Panti wasn’t such an idol to me. Even with a lot of journalists I find loads of them do brilliant work but a lot of the time they forget there are things going on outside of their bubble. There are issues that they are supposed to be writing about but don’t, so for me it’s less about idols and more about learning from those people, from their mistakes, and from what they do well to try and get a broader perspective”.

HC: Have you enjoyed your time in UL?

SL: “I have hugely enjoyed my time in UL, my biggest fear coming in was that I wouldn’t make any friends but with clubs and societies and just meeting people in my course, I was forced out of my comfort zone and that helped a lot. Many aspects of my course are very beneficial and also there are a lot of things in University I love, such as campaigns and initiatives like our sexual health awareness campaign etc. I do think UL has that want for its students to enjoy themselves when they come in the door, to grow as people and to walk out better than they were before.”