‘Sport is my biggest passion in life’

Grad Week: Aaron Gallagher is completing his doctoral studies in the US as part of the Fulbright programme

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you studied in college

My name is Aaron Gallagher and I am a Dublin-born PhD research scholar, currently living and working in Washington DC. I am completing my doctoral studies in the field of media and communications, jointly at DCU and the University of Maryland, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship. The focus of my research is media coverage of professional sports and the relationship between sporting organisations, athletes and journalists.

What attracted you to the grad programme?

I always wanted the opportunity to travel to the United States in order to learn more about its fascinating sports media industries and how they compare with Europe. Having spent a portion of my PhD working with the European Olympic Committee in Brussels last year, I wanted to take my initial research and compare it with new findings from an American perspective.

What is the graduate programme like?

The Fulbright programme has been an incredible life experience. Getting to learn from some of the top American professors in the fields of media, journalism and communications, who have won Pulitzer Prizes, worked for ESPN, the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and the New York Times, has been magnificent.

I have had the chance to travel throughout Maryland and Washington DC, to New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Virginia and Pennsylvania for my research, to attend a variety of men and women’s professional sporting events like baseball games, American football, basketball, ice hockey and soccer.


How important is mentorship to you?

I have been fortunate to learn from a host of different mentors in America on my Fulbright programme. One of the best parts of my Fulbright experience has been observing how professors in America do their jobs.

Seeing how professors at this university guide its students to be ethical, professional and empathetic young journalists has been a great learning experience. I feel the conversations I have had with different academics, journalists and sports leaders here in America for my PhD will help me become a better leader and mentor in my own career.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Sport is my biggest passion in life. Once I have completed my PhD degree, I see myself continuing to work in the sports and media industries, specifically from a communications point of view. I want to take all of the lessons and findings from my doctoral research and apply it to the real world.

What’s your advice to graduates applying to the programme?

The best advice I can give to graduates about applying for a Fulbright scholarship is to simply go for it. Fulbright has given me the opportunity to go places and meet people I never could have dreamed about. I have toured inside the White House, been a guest at the Irish Embassy in Washington and discussed the role of sports diplomacy with an ambassador to the United States.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times