UCC student and Peruvian lawyer Maria Torres has been selected for the programme.

Cork student achieves rare activism honour

Peruvian indigenous lawyer and UCC master's student Maria Torres was one of just 40 students from around the world to be selected to take part in the Next Generation Leaders Program, a project that connects participants with other students around the world to discuss diverse and ethical approaches to activism.

Run by The Talloires Network, the programme was open to students across 79 countries, with a combined enrolment of over six million students worldwide.

The young leaders will examine themes of pandemic recovery and resilience, innovations in gender equity and civic engagement futures through international exchange.

Maria is a Peruvian indigenous lawyer and international masters student of Government and Politics at UCC College of Arts Celtic Studies and Social Sciences. She serves as a parliamentary adviser at the Commission for Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian Peoples, Environment and Ecology at the Congress of the Republic of Peru.

She is also a political activist for indigenous peoples’ rights and has advocated for reclaiming indigenous identity in Peru. Last year, she ran for Congress in Peru, leading a campaign based on making people aware about the importance of reclaiming indigenous identity.

On hearing of her success, she said: “I am really grateful to UCC and the Talloires Network for their commitment with civic engagement. It is so exciting to have the possibility to share with a broader international community how reclaiming indigenous identity could be a driving force to challenge structural social problems in Latin America.”

Maria’s candidate application was supported by staff at the Civic and Community Engagement Office and International Office at UCC. Cliona Maher, UCC International Officer said: “Maria’s work and research, inspired by an important Irish legacy in Latin America - Roger Casement, protecting indigenous and environmental rights, is most relevant to both Irish and EU missions in the region. Maria is an inspiring leader and a wonderful representative for UCC and how higher education can work towards the sustainable development goals.”

UCC is a signatory to Ireland’s Campus Engage Charter, which reflects the leadership commitment within Ireland’s higher education sector to the civic and community engagement role and responsibilities of third level education.

In offering his congratulations to Maria Torres, Professor John O’Halloran, Interim President of UCC, said: “Maria is a great example of our many students who demonstrate themselves to be socially responsible, effective, global citizens, who recognise and challenge inequality. We strive to nurture these attributes and are immensely proud to see the leadership our students and graduates demonstrate in these areas.”

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