In what was a sad week for diversity in STEM in Ireland, we also lost Bianca Ní Ghrógain,the highly-regarded educator, on 6 June. Her close friend and fellow edtech champion Mags Amond wrote this tribute.
On 6 June, the untimely death occurred of Bianca Ní Ghrógain, Irish torchbearer for the worlds of technology and diversity in education. For countless educators across the country, and across the world, time stood still as the news radiated across time and space. It is no exaggeration to say that very many people will remember where they were at that saddest ‘Bianca moment’.
One meeting with Bianca was enough to catch the fire of her passion for education (especially if it involved tech, maker education, human rights, divergent thinking, flipped thinking, social justice, Gaeilge and a bit of craic), which was truly remarkable, and infectious. Teachers, students, and student teachers all over the world used the ideas and resources she shared at conferences, seminars, teach-meets, and via social media. One meeting with Bianca was never enough though — those who met her once always sought her company again and again.
Bianca wore her heart on her sleeve (as well as on her infamous t-shirts).
She could be simultaneously bashful and proud when being teased about becoming known to so many as simply ‘Bianca’. Her sense of humour was legend, and the wittiest message or link could arrive in a friend’s inbox at any time of day or night. But most of all she was fearless and she was fierce, and she fought with every fibre of her being for justice, setting her compass daily towards equality for all. She fought for those she did not know with as much energy as she fought for those she knew and loved. She was the social conscience of the edtech world. For all of the above, and more, she will be held in precious memories by so many who today feel bereft beyond words.
Bianca, in her all-too-short 32 years, became the glue that connected a hugely diverse group of humans. And so, gathered in Clondalkin last Thursday morning to mourn with and comfort her beloved family and closest friends were people from each of the communities and chapters of Bianca’s life — music folk from the sound engineering days, colleagues from the youth worker days, Froebel teachers and students, her edtech tribes of CESI and ICTinEDU, the DCU PhD team, and her ‘second family’, the staff, pupils and parents of Griffeen Valley ETNS. There were friends, mentors and students from four universities, four teacher-training colleges and the Teaching Council. The sense of personal loss was deepened by the collective realisation of the infinite loss to the future of education.
Never has it been truer to say the words “Ní bheidh a leithéad ann arís”.
Slán tamall Bianca, and as you’d say yourself, Hakuna Matata!
Mags Amond, CESI, @magsamond