Zainab Boladale voted onto DCU’s Governing Authority as she hopes to be the voice for students

Aoibhín Meghen

Former DCU student Zainab Boladale was appointed to DCU’s Governing Authority on Friday 13th November.

The RTE presenter and former journalism student said that her youth and understanding of young people will help her in fulfilling the role. 

“Because I am still young myself I think I can understand the perspective of students and what it is that they’re going through at this time,” said Boladale.

“I can understand young people, their emotions and essentially what it means to be a young person in Ireland,” she continued.

When Boladale was first approached about taking on the role she felt she had to consider whether the position was suited to her and her interests.

“I had to think about it and see if it was something I could bring my passion to. I have always had an interest in the right to education in general. I think that stems from having parents who couldn’t access education to their full capacity,” said Boladale

While she was still attending DCU, Boladale worked with the DCU Access Scheme which works to create equality of access to third level education. The scheme is the largest university access programme in the country.

Her involvement with DCU Access meant that she already had a good working relationship with DCU before taking on the role.

In a statement about Boladale’s appointment, President of DCU Daire Keogh said that “she will bring a depth of knowledge, insight, energy and a new perspective.”

Keogh said: “She made a positive and lasting impression during her time here as a student and we have watched with pride as she continues to make an impact as a journalist and TV presenter.”

Although Boladale is not yet sure what measures she will introduce over the next five years, she believes her youth will allow her to understand the needs of students.

“I’m looking out for young people like myself and making sure that there is a voice there for things that might not be thought of,” she said.

As well as working in Irish media, Boladale along with two other black Irish women, Wuraola Majekodunmi and Jess Majekodunmi, established a group called Beyond Representation in September 2019.

The three women, who work across the media and tech industries, were inspired to set up Beyond Representation when they found that each of them had experienced similar issues in the workforce.

“We were talking about our experiences in our different industries and how regardless of what we are doing they kind of overlap in the sense of that feeling of not being sure that you’re being understood,” said Boladale.

Each of the women have had moments in their careers where they felt their abilities or their identities were being questioned.

According to Boladale, the choice to name the group Beyond Representation was to show that the group is not about being a “voice for all black people” it is for black people to find colleagues and friends and create connections within their industries.

Since the beginning of Beyond Representation, Boladale said she has been introduced to more black women working in media who she can connect with or ask for advice.

For Boladale, the appearance and promotion of people like presenter Nadine Reid and actor Demi Isaac Oviawe without making a point of their race is important.

She also said that in the last year she has seen much more acknowledgement of black people in the media and acknowledgement that opportunities can be distributed to a broader demographic.

The DCU Governing Authority has 31 internal and external members who are each elected for a five year term and it is chaired by Chancellor Dr Martin McAleese.

The function of a Governing Authority is to pursue the objects of a university which include promoting learning, promoting cultural and social life while respecting diversity, and supporting and contributing to national and economic development. These objects are provided for in the Universities Act 1997.

Aoibhín Meghen

Image credit: Zainab Boladale