Law undergraduate Cara Heaslip is 2014’s Study USA Student of the Year.
Currently at Queen’s University Belfast, Cara spent a year studying business at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
She was among 70 students from Northern Ireland to successfully graduate from the programme and was honoured at 20th anniversary celebrations at Titanic Belfast last Friday (October 17).
Study USA, formerly known as the Business Education Initiative, is managed by British Council Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL).
Since its formation in 1994, the initiative has sent 1800 students from Northern Ireland to all four corners of the United States where they have successfully completed a year studying business at one of 140 institutions.
To celebrate two decades of the programme, the anniversary celebrations brought together its most recent graduates, alumni from each year of the programme and their employers, as well as welcoming Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry and guest speaker, Elizabeth Dibble Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Cara was named Student of the Year after achieving top academic marks and for an essay highlighting how her experience has helped further her employability.
Speaking about the award, Cara who is originally from Crawfordsburn, said:
“It is such an honour to receive this award and as I look back on my time in the US, I can genuinely say it was a life-changing experience.
“I go into my final year at university with newfound skills – including people and business skills - both of which will help maximise my career prospects. They say the best teacher is experience and through Study USA I have learnt more than I could ever have imagined.
“Thank you to Dr Farry and DEL for funding the programme over many years – and also thanks to the British Council and in particular, the Study USA team, for giving me the opportunity to be part of such an incredible experience."
This year, the Student of the Year Award was sponsored by leading audit firm, KPMG Northern Ireland.
Jon D’Arcy, Chairman of KPMG Northern Ireland said: “KPMG is delighted to sponsor the Study USA Student of the Year award especially as, over the years, a number of our people have participated in this programme as undergraduates.
“Study USA provides our young people with an invaluable opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone; to live and study in another country; learn new skills; get involved with community projects; and generally boost their employability.”
Students interested in applying for next year’s programme can apply online from Friday, October 24 at http://nireland.britishcouncil.org. Deadline for Applications is Monday, November 24.