Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Doctors of the future graduate from RCSI at Ireland's largest medical conferring

04 June 2015

Mark Pollock, explorer and collaboration catalyst, to receive RCSI honorary doctorate degree

282 future doctors from 24 different countries around the world will don caps and gowns to graduate from RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) School of Medicine today. Medical degrees will be presented to graduands at the annual conferring ceremony which takes place in the RDS, Dublin.

Pictured (l-r) is Class of 2015 graduates: Dr Sami Backley, Dr Susie Hyland, Dr Susie Hannon, Dr Priya Sapra, Dr Michaela Masojada and Dr Shane Carr.
The RCSI School of Medicine conferring ceremony sees the largest number of doctors in Ireland graduate each year and today's graduating class is the biggest group of medical students to be conferred to date. The conferring ceremony is a celebration for students and their families who have travelled from all over the world to attend the ceremony.

Professor Cathal Kelly, Chief Executive/ Registrar, RCSI, congratulated all those graduating on their success. "Today is a day of great joy and a celebration of achievement for our graduates and is the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication. These future doctors have been equipped with all the necessary knowledge, skills and patient-centred attitudes required for a fulfilling and successful career in this noble profession. We look forward to watching our graduates progress on the next phase of their journey as future healthcare leaders."

An honorary doctorate will be awarded to Mark Pollock, explorer, adventurer and collaboration catalyst, who will deliver an inspirational speech to the graduating students. This is the fifth RCSI honorary doctorate to be awarded since RCSI received independent degree awarding status in 2010. A County Down adventure athlete, Mark was the first blind person to race to the South Pole. Within a decade of losing his sight due to a detached retina in 1998, he completed six marathons in seven days in the Gobi desert, won medals at the Commonwealth Games and completed Ironman events. In 2010, Mark fell from a second-storey window and damaged his spinal cord leaving him paralysed. Through the Mark Pollock Trust, he is on a mission to find and connect people around the world to fast track a cure for paralysis. He is working with neuroscientists from UCLA, the Pavlov Institute, in St Petersburg, and the Frazier Rehab Institute, in Kentucky, and is now the world's principal test pilot for Esko Robotic Legs.

Professor Cathal Kelly who will read the citation at the conferring ceremony said: "It is with great honour that we present Mark with an RCSI honorary doctorate. Mark was chosen to receive the honorary doctorate because of his sheer determination and refusal to give up in the face of such daunting physical challenges, spinal-cord injury and paralysis together with his commitment and perseverance in pioneering medical progress with scientific collaboration. He has led an extraordinary life and will be an inspiration to our graduands on their graduation day as they embark on their careers and choose to make a difference in the world with their talents and education, just as he is doing."

The 282 candidates graduating today will be conferred with Honours Degree of Bachelor of Medicine, NUI, Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Obstetrics MB, BCh, BAO (NUI, RCSI), LRCP & SI.

A commemorative video for the Class of 2015 was unveiled at the Undergraduate Conferring Dinner on the 2nd June. The video features a variety of candidates from the graduating Class of 2015 who share some their favourite memories of RCSI. The video includes congratulatory messages from RCSI staff and can be viewed below.

RCSI is among the top 50 most international universities in the world (Times Higher Education University World Rankings, 2014-15). It is a not-for-profit health sciences institution focused on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland. In 2010, RCSI was granted independent degree awarding status by the State, which enables the College to award degrees alongside its traditional powers to award licentiates.