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Living the dream: Acadia's McParland passionate about volunteering – and soccer


WOLFVILLE - It’s a pretty good guess that someone who wins a national award for community service likely enjoys volunteering. With Halifax native and fourth-year Acadia student-athlete Caoimhe McParland, though, there’s no guesswork involved. 

“It might sound like a cliché, but I do it because I enjoy it,” the 21-year-old biology student and varsity soccer player said of her many volunteer endeavours.

“It’s been a really good way of finding out what my interests are.”

McParland won the AUS Student-Athlete Community Service Award for women’s soccer Oct. 30, the fourth straight year that award has gone to an Acadia player.

She added the corresponding CIS award Nov. 5, joining current teammate Alana Fairfax and former teammate Cathleen Bleakney as national winners.

McParland (her Gaelic first name is pronounced ‘Kee-va’) said she was “really excited” to have won the conference award.

“There were a great group of nominees. I was really honoured to be part of the group,” she said.

It was even more humbling to win the national award.

“It was a really good two weeks for me, really exciting,” she said.

Fairfax and Bleakney “have both been able to balance their school work, soccer and community work so well. You have to ask yourself, ‘why couldn’t I do that?’”

 

Active at Acadia

Of her many community activities, the one closest to McParland’s heart is the Global Medical Brigade, which she has been involved with since it was founded in 2011, her first year at Acadia.

The GMB, a student-led global health and sustainable development organization, organizes yearly medical missions to Honduras. McParland’s responsibilities include contacting pharmacies to obtain medications and keeping track of medical supplies.

“I got involved with it because it seemed like a great way to get experience in the medical field I couldn’t get anywhere else. I had always been set on medicine, and this has solidified for me that’s the direction I want to go.”

Both her parents are doctors, her dad a respirologist and her mom a psychiatrist, but if McParland becomes a physician, it will be because that’s what she wants to do.

“It’s hard to say I haven’t been influenced by both my parents being doctors,” she says, but medicine is a passion for her.

“I plan to become a doctor because I like it. Science has always been my number-one thing.”

At Acadia, among many other things, she also volunteers with the S.M.I.L.E. program, working one-on-one with children with developmental needs and challenges.

“It’s definitely a special program, and a very special part of Acadia. I’ve only been able to do it in the second semesters because of soccer and studies, but it’s been amazing to be able to work with children one-on-one.”

She also volunteers at the Wolfville Nursing Home and with Kinderskills Acadia, as well as taking part in fundraising activities as part of the Axewomen soccer team.

McParland hasn’t had a problem juggling her volunteer activities, because so many of them are done as part of her daily life.

“There are a few things I do in different areas that are a lot of fun,” she says. “I’d hate to have to give any of them up.”

 

Passion for soccer

She has also loved playing soccer. A defender – specifically, a cornerback – she has watched the Axewomen evolve into one of the top teams in the conference, and has gotten to play with some amazing teammates.

She is also playing indoor soccer this winter with the Valley United senior women. “Because I’m from Halifax, I always played with Halifax City, but I was only able to play over Christmas and during time off school. I switched over this year because I wanted to be able to play more,” she said.

This is McParland’s fourth, and very likely final, year at Acadia.  She graduates next spring, and while there is a slight chance she may return for a fifth year of soccer, that’s not part of her plan right now.

“My goal right now is to take a year off before I apply to medical school,” she said.

“I’d like to travel, and I’ll have to work (to raise money toward her tuition). My plan is to apply for medical school next fall, and hopefully be accepted for 2016.”

As far as her future in medicine, she is currently undecided.

“I think I’d like to specialize,” she says, “but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.”

And it goes without saying that she will likely also continue to volunteer, as long as her schedule will allow.

“It might sound like a cliché, but I do it because I enjoy it,” the 21-year-old biology student and varsity soccer player said of her many volunteer endeavours.

“It’s been a really good way of finding out what my interests are.”

McParland won the AUS Student-Athlete Community Service Award for women’s soccer Oct. 30, the fourth straight year that award has gone to an Acadia player.

She added the corresponding CIS award Nov. 5, joining current teammate Alana Fairfax and former teammate Cathleen Bleakney as national winners.

McParland (her Gaelic first name is pronounced ‘Kee-va’) said she was “really excited” to have won the conference award.

“There were a great group of nominees. I was really honoured to be part of the group,” she said.

It was even more humbling to win the national award.

“It was a really good two weeks for me, really exciting,” she said.

Fairfax and Bleakney “have both been able to balance their school work, soccer and community work so well. You have to ask yourself, ‘why couldn’t I do that?’”

 

Active at Acadia

Of her many community activities, the one closest to McParland’s heart is the Global Medical Brigade, which she has been involved with since it was founded in 2011, her first year at Acadia.

The GMB, a student-led global health and sustainable development organization, organizes yearly medical missions to Honduras. McParland’s responsibilities include contacting pharmacies to obtain medications and keeping track of medical supplies.

“I got involved with it because it seemed like a great way to get experience in the medical field I couldn’t get anywhere else. I had always been set on medicine, and this has solidified for me that’s the direction I want to go.”

Both her parents are doctors, her dad a respirologist and her mom a psychiatrist, but if McParland becomes a physician, it will be because that’s what she wants to do.

“It’s hard to say I haven’t been influenced by both my parents being doctors,” she says, but medicine is a passion for her.

“I plan to become a doctor because I like it. Science has always been my number-one thing.”

At Acadia, among many other things, she also volunteers with the S.M.I.L.E. program, working one-on-one with children with developmental needs and challenges.

“It’s definitely a special program, and a very special part of Acadia. I’ve only been able to do it in the second semesters because of soccer and studies, but it’s been amazing to be able to work with children one-on-one.”

She also volunteers at the Wolfville Nursing Home and with Kinderskills Acadia, as well as taking part in fundraising activities as part of the Axewomen soccer team.

McParland hasn’t had a problem juggling her volunteer activities, because so many of them are done as part of her daily life.

“There are a few things I do in different areas that are a lot of fun,” she says. “I’d hate to have to give any of them up.”

 

Passion for soccer

She has also loved playing soccer. A defender – specifically, a cornerback – she has watched the Axewomen evolve into one of the top teams in the conference, and has gotten to play with some amazing teammates.

She is also playing indoor soccer this winter with the Valley United senior women. “Because I’m from Halifax, I always played with Halifax City, but I was only able to play over Christmas and during time off school. I switched over this year because I wanted to be able to play more,” she said.

This is McParland’s fourth, and very likely final, year at Acadia.  She graduates next spring, and while there is a slight chance she may return for a fifth year of soccer, that’s not part of her plan right now.

“My goal right now is to take a year off before I apply to medical school,” she said.

“I’d like to travel, and I’ll have to work (to raise money toward her tuition). My plan is to apply for medical school next fall, and hopefully be accepted for 2016.”

As far as her future in medicine, she is currently undecided.

“I think I’d like to specialize,” she says, “but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.”

And it goes without saying that she will likely also continue to volunteer, as long as her schedule will allow.

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