Saturday, 17 September 2022
The 2022 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Awards will take place this year at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana on September 23rd, 2022. Introducing one of the esteemed awardee’s, Dr Susan K. Whoriskey.
Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Susan is proud of her strong roots and connections to Donegal. It is believed that her great grandfather, John Whoriskey, left the Creeslough area to escape the Irish Potato Famine in search of a better life. This journey was the beginning of a long family legacy of service through medicine and research which has stood the test of time.
Having achieved a plethora of impressive academic and professional accolades including a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and a PH.D in Molecular Biology & Molecular Genetics, she has also received an honourary Doctorate in Biotechnology and Entrepreneurship from University of Ulster (located less than 50 miles from the birth place of her great grandfather) for her impressive and life-long contributions to developing life-saving vaccines and medicines. Her motivations throughout her career has been close to home “While I didn’t realise at the time, looking back I have no doubt that the loss of my mother at a young age due to cancer has been my deepest inspiration to work to find cures for unmet medical needs”.
Susan has returned to her roots here in Donegal as often as she can to reconnect with local family members and discover more about her great grandfather’s life. A connection made while lecturing about Entrepreneurship at the Business School in MIT lead to an invitation to speak at the University of Ulster and in turn “The next thing I know, I was walking around the town of Creeslough and paying my respects to my family members in the graveyard. A visit that has led to strong friendships, collaborations and a deep respect for the people, the place and the culture here.”
The Whoriskey ancestry in Donegal has always been an important factor in her family life as her father and grandmother “shared their love of Irish music and culture and never missed a moment to tell me my ancestors were from Ireland.” She is passionate about Donegal and says that her favourite aspects of the county include “the spirit of the people, feet planted solidly on their beautiful land, I love interacting with the people here, hearing their stories about their own lives in such a beautiful place”.