Queen's University Belfast student Hannah Conlon has been named Study USA Student of the Year.
The 22-year-old Law and Politics student spent a year studying business at Hastings College, Nebraska and hopes to use the experience to pursue every opportunity that comes her way in her final year.
Hannah was among 55 students from Northern Ireland to successfully graduate from the programme and was honoured at a graduation ceremony at the Belfast Harbour Commissioner's Office recently.
Study USA, formerly known as the Business Education Initiative, is managed by British Council Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for the Economy.
Since its formation in 1994, the initiative has sent over 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.
Hannah was named Student of the Year, this year sponsored by wet processing equipment company, CDE Global, after achieving top academic marks and for an essay highlighting how her experience has helped further her employability.
Speaking about the award, Hannah, from Lisburn said:
“Spending nine unforgettable months studying at Hastings College, Nebraska has greatly developed my entrepreneurial spirit and encouraged me to always be on the lookout to challenge and push myself.
“Just two weeks after arriving home, I was offered an internship placement with one of Ireland’s top leading corporate law firms; something that I would not have applied for if I had not been involved in Study USA .
“Prior to my departure for the USA, I did not know that I would enjoy studying Business – it was not something that I had ever had the opportunity to study before, nor the inclination to explore, and yet, due to my participation in the Study USA programme, I am looking at Masters courses to take after I complete my Law degree.
“I would also like to study away from home if I do choose to pursue an MA course – Study USA has taught me that living in a new town or city can be extremely beneficial and that pursuing new experiences and opportunities can lead to the most incredible of experiences - All you have to do is have the courage to do so and battle through any doubts that you may have.”
Also speaking at the event was Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland.
He said: “Congratulations to all of this year's Study USA graduates. Year on year we find that those who take part in the programme not only enhance their employability skills but also develop intercultural skills, which helps them to prepare to work in a global economy.
“Throughout its history Study USA has enabled students to become great ambassadors for Northern Ireland and strengthened cultural, economic and educational links and connections between the two countries."
Students interested in applying for next year’s programme can apply online now at http://nireland.britishcouncil.org. Deadline for Applications is 5pm, Monday, December 5 2016.