Private Emma Ging who helped keep the peace in Kosovo was awarded a Higher Certificate in Leadership, Management and Defence Studies along with 171 other soldiers yesterday.
Several new skills learned in the Defence Forces by Emma and her colleagues were recognised academically at Ireland's largest ever military graduation ceremony at Carlow Institute of Technology.
"I joined the army the same year my father returned from peace-keeping in Bosnia," said Emma.
"It was his example that made me want to be a soldier," said the mother-of-one from Ballytore, Co Kildare.
Retired Company Quartermaster Sergeant John Ging served in the Lebanon, Bosnia and Cyprus. Emma (31), stationed with the army's Engineer Group at The Curragh, has ridden horses at the army's equestrian school and has completed several courses, including combat engineering.
Meanwhile, Corporal James Cunningham (31) was awarded Student of the Year on a certificate course for 28 corporals. Based at Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin, he is a native of Tullahought, Co Kilkenny, and has served on United Nations missions in Liberia, Lebanon, and Chad.
Cpl Cunningham, a member of the Second Cavalry Squadron, helped train members of the ceremonial military motorcycle escort who guarded Queen Elizabeth in Ireland.
He recalled military operations aimed at supporting the arrest of former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. And he helped defend refugee camps in Chad.
Twenty three soldiers received BA degrees yesterday having completed senior non-commissioned officer courses.
All awards were validated by the Higher Education Training and Awards Council (HETAC). Minister of State Paul Kehoe, Major General Ralph James, families and friends attended the ceremony hosted by college president Dr Patricia Mulcahy,