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Three local graduates are off to study in the USA this month after being accepted for the Study USA programme.

Students Ciara Jones, Newry; Daniel Murray, Rostrevor and Áine Cunningham, Kilkeel.
Students Ciara Jones, Newry; Daniel Murray, Rostrevor and Áine Cunningham, Kilkeel.

Ciara Jones from Newry, Áine Cunningham from Kilkeel and Daniel Murray from Rostrevor will be among 61 students from across Northern Ireland on the Study USA programme, which enables students to study business or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths) subjects for a year in American colleges, across 28 States, helping to develop their career prospects when they return to Northern Ireland. 

The British Council, which is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations, manages Study USA on behalf of the Department for the Economy – and since its formation in 1994, the initiative has sent over 2000 students from Northern Ireland to all four corners of the United States.

Ciara (21), from Newry, is a previous pupil at St. Paul’s High School Bessbrook and has recently graduated from Ulster University. She will spend her year in the US at Bellarmine University, Kentucky.

Speaking ahead of her departure, she said: “I decided to participate in the Study USA programme not just solely for the amazing travel opportunity but to step out of my comfort zone and expand my skills set. This once in a lifetime opportunity will provide me with valuable international experience and allow me to become a more unique candidate for future employers. I believe Study USA will help me develop as a whole; I will gain independence and become more adaptable while also gaining knowledge in new subjects.

“I am currently still considering my options for when I return from America - I might seek a legal professional role or complete a masters.”

Meanwhile, Áine (21), is from Kilkeel and an ex-pupil at St Louis Grammar School. A graduate of Queen’s University in Law and Politics, she is off to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana.

She said: “I applied for Study USA as I’ve always felt a longing to go out and explore the world and have always been drawn to the US, as it is a melting pot of culture.

“I’m nervous about making new friends as I am naturally quite a shy and reserved person until I feel comfortable around people – however, I’m so excited to be able to push myself out of my comfort zone, develop my confidence and share my craic! “

Fellow 21-year-old Daniel Murray is from Rostrevor and a former pupil of St. Colman's College, Newry. A Law graduate from Queen’s, he is heading to Saint Martin's University in Washington.

He said: “I wanted to take part in the programme to study under a new discipline, increase my employability, have a new experience, and develop my interpersonal skills. This will make me more qualified, with business experience to compliment my Law degree. My hope  to make good connections in America and come back as a better version of myself.”

The Study USA programme was postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but with current conditions, it has been decided that the programme can proceed this academic year.

Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland, said: “This has been a challenging year for our students, and we are delighted that they will be able to take part in the programme this coming academic year. They will join a growing alumni of students to act as ambassadors for Northern Ireland and our institutions, developing important long-term links and connections between the two countries. Through international mobility programmes like Study USA, students are able to enhance their employability skills and also obtain greater intercultural understanding, helping to prepare them for work in a global economy.  We wish this year’s students every success, and trust that new connections and friendships will be developed in the year ahead.”

Study USA continues the British Council’s work, building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. To find out more about their work in Northern Ireland visit NIRELAND.BRITISHCOUNCIL.ORG or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Applications for Study USA 2022/23 will open in late Autumn.

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