New England
Siobhan Heekin-Canedy (’18)
Siobhan Heekin-Canedy (’18)

It was a treat for students at Thomas Aquinas College, New England, last Saturday when alumna and Olympic ice dancer Siobhan Heekin-Canedy (’18) spoke about the important role that sports play in promoting human dignity — and then offered an ice-skating clinic the next morning.

“I was here last spring to talk about the World Youth Alliance and internship opportunities, and I have been talking with Mr. Gardner for the past two years about hosting a skating clinic for the students,” said Ms. Heekin-Canedy, the World Youth Alliance’s North America regional director. “So I figured, why not combine the two this year?”

In her talk, “Sports and Human Dignity,” given in the Inman Building, beside one of the frozen campus ponds, Ms. Heekin-Canedy outlined her work at the World Youth Alliance and the organization’s objective, particularly at the United Nations. She also discussed the impact and formation that she received from her life in sports, from first learning to skate at five years old to competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. “In sharing my story as an athlete,” she said, “I hope to  help inspire young people to dream big, pursue excellence, and really see the dignity within themselves and in everybody they meet.”

In seventh grade, Ms. Heekin-Canedy suffered some knee injuries that prompted her to give up Irish dancing in favor of ice skating — a decision which eventually led her to ice dancing. Her search for a qualified partner then brought her to Eastern Europe, where she would travel more than 20 times to train in Ukraine. “I fell in love with the people and the culture,” she said. “In a way, I can trace my love for international affairs from my trips to the Ukraine.”

After graduating from the College in 2018, Ms. Heekin-Canedy received a master’s degree in international relations at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She also spent time working for the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. 

Through these experiences, she developed many skills, one of which was communicating with people of diverse backgrounds. “It’s worth taking time to think about ways we can communicate across boundaries,” she reflected, “whether they are cultural, religious, or other backgrounds.”

Ms. Heekin-Canedy also told students about summer internship opportunities at the World Youth Alliance. “This is a great educational experience and really helpful in the job search, especially if you’re beginning to think of what you want to do after TAC,” she said. She noted that the College’s unique academic program lends itself to all fields and careers. “I love working with TAC students as interns,” she said. “They really contribute to the discussions we have with other interns and trainees.”

Sunday morning, Ms. Heekin-Canedy was out on the pond, in ice skates, to give students, faculty, and their families a lesson in ice dancing.

Siobhan Heekin-Canedy (’18) leads an ice-skating clinic on a campus pond.
Siobhan Heekin-Canedy (’18) leads an ice-skating clinic on a campus pond.