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All the best: Deirdre Heenan on her favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The pro-vice chancellor of Ulster University and provost of the Coleraine and Magee campuses is in her mid-40s and lives in Londonderry with  her husband Rory and their three children - Jack (19), Harry (17)  and Matthew (15).

My best moment

It was being made professor about eight years ago. I started as an undergraduate student and then went on to be a part-time lecturer and worked my way up the ladder so I’ve been through every step at Ulster University.

My best song

One that makes me smile is the George Michael and Aretha Franklin song I Knew You Were Waiting. I’m a child of the 90s so I like that it has a feel good factor and also reminds me of the Coach in Banbridge. When it comes on the radio I always turn it up and sing along.

My best way to relax

That’s easy for me as I’m a dedicated walker. There are some fabulous walks around Derry, particularly with the new peace bridge. My aim is to do eight kilometres a day and 10 at the weekend. It’s like a religion for me. if I can’t do it at night I’ll do it at six in the morning.

My best job

Saturday record girl at Woolworths in Banbridge. It was a great job — I had the time of my life playing records and getting paid for it. If someone came in and asked for Daniel O’Donnell I would tell them we didn’t have it. For me it was all about The Smiths. I had the job for two years and loved it.

My best advice

I tried to think about my mother and what kind of advice she would give. She used to say, “look after today and tomorrow will take care of itself”. In other words, try not to worry too much about the future as you don’t know what it will bring.

My best gift

I was lucky enough to meet the Rev Jesse Jackson and we even had dinner together. I told him about our ambitions for higher education in Northern Ireland and explain some of the difficulties to him. He was a great listener and wonderful company with great stories. About three weeks later he sent me a poster of himself and Martin Luther King signed, ‘to sister Deirdre, keep hope alive, love Jesse’. If there was a fire I would be taking that with me.

My best achievement

I was the first female provost of the Magee campus. That was special because the campus is named after Martha Magee, the women who bequeathed the money to set up the college in 1845.

My best buy

I’m all about price per wear so I tend to have things and keep them for a very long time. My best buy is my black Mulberry handbag that I’ve had for about 15 years and it owes me nothing. They say Mulberries look better the more they’re used but this bag is starting to approach the battered look.

My best film

When I was in university I was in the film club and we spent hours watching films including all the film noir. My favourite was probably Double Indemnity with Barbara Stanwyck as a real vamp

My best book

Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck. Not only did I read it at school but all three of my sons had to do it for GCSE too. I went through it with each of them and I feel I know the book from start to finish. We had  such fabulous times talking about it. It’s a great story about loss and loneliness

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