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Choctaw film student is handed special UCC scholarship


Ciara O'Donnell

Ciara O'Donnell

Ciara O'Donnell

A young American film student will benefit from the proud 'blood memory' of the kindness the Choctaw Nation in the US showed Ireland at the height of the Great Famine. 

Ciara O'Donnell will now study at University College Cork thanks to a special scholarship set up to help youngsters from the Choctaw American Indian tribe.

Ms O'Donnell, from the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, was the unanimous choice for the scholarship which will allow her to study for an MA in Film and Screen Media in Cork.

The scholarship was awarded as Irish people and Americans of Irish extraction helped raise a staggering €4.9m to help two American Indian tribes devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Navajo and Hopi tribes - located in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico in the US south-west - launched the appeal four months ago after the virus cut a swathe through their communities.

The appeal has been flooded with donations from Ireland in memory of how another American Indian tribe, the Choctaw, donated a total of $170 (the equivalent of around €4,500 today) to Ireland at the height of the Great Famine.

"As the daughter of a single mother, I grew up knowing that education is a priority. This will be a life-changing experience. It will be my first time abroad and an opportunity to learn about my ancestors and their shared experiences," Ms O'Donnell said.

"I am so thankful. I am going to take as much out of this experience as possible and make my tribe proud."

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