SIXTY-ONE students and recent graduates from across Northern Ireland are off to study in the USA this month.
Hailing from Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, St Mary’s University College, South Eastern Regional College, Northern Regional College and Belfast Metropolitan College, they have been selected for 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.
Nicole Kerr (20), from Magherafelt is a Law student at Queen’s University Belfast. She will spend the next year at the University of Dubuque in Iowa.
Speaking ahead of her departure she said: “I had heard great things about the programme from past participants and always knew it was something that I would love to do. With Covid-19 disrupting a lot of my university experience, I was keen to take part so to make the most out of my last years at university.
“I’m most excited to explore Iowa and to travel to new places and meet new people. I’m also excited to experience the American culture including of course the food and Thanksgiving.
“On my return home, I plan to do my final year of Law at Queen’s. I hope by studying Business Management this year in America, it will give me a good foundation to progress in a career in corporate law.”
Meanwhile, Sasha Dempsey (21) from Ballyclare, is currently studying Fashion Production and Business at Belfast Metropolitan College. She will spend the next year in Illinois at North Central College.
She said: “I applied for Study USA as I wanted to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. I have never lived away from home before so didn’t want to take any half measures and decided this was the opportunity I needed. I think I’m quite independent already, but I want to test myself and see how well I can really do on my own. I also want to experience the different culture that America has to offer and explore Chicago.
“When I return home, I’m hoping to move into the film industry or the luxury fashion industry, but right now it’s predominantly film and production that I’m most interested in.”
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.