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Former Ballymena pupils off to the US on Scholarship programme

Former Ballymena pupils (from left) Eimear Mcmullan, Matthew Grimsleya and Emma Smyth have been selected to take part in prestigious Study USA programme, and will spend a year studying in the USA.

FORMER Ballymena pupils Eimear McMullan, Matthew Grimsley and Emma Smyth are off to study in the USA this month.

They will be among 48 students from across Northern Ireland on the prestigious Study USA programme, which enables students to study business or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related subjects 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.

Eimear and Emma are both ex-pupils of St Louis Grammar School in Ballymena. Eimear, who currently studies Law at Queen’s University Belfast will spend the next year at Presbyterian College, South Carolina, while Emma, a Psychology student at Ulster University is off to Illinois College in Illinois.

Speaking ahead of her departure, Eimear (20) said: “I have always wanted to live in the US and felt that Study USA would be a great way to make new friends, while studying in a different culture. I’m especially excited to learn a different way of life, as well as experiencing a different teaching environment.

“I hope through the programme to learn new aspects of business so I can increase my employability skills. When I return home my plan is to finish final year and hopefully get a job in a law firm, where I can use the skills I developed in the US.”

Meanwhile, Matthew (20), a former pupil at Ballymena Academy is at Queen’s University Belfast studying Law and Politics. He is heading to Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania.

He said: “Study USA was an opportunity I’d heard about when in my first year of university but was never something I thought I would be fortunate enough to be selected for. When applications opened for this round, I decided to just go for it; it sounded like a fantastic opportunity to study a different subject abroad. I think my experience of being at university completely online during Covid-19 also encouraged me to apply as the programme allows me to experience another year of university in person.

“Living in a different social and cultural environment for a year will also help me consider and see other perspectives outside of Northern Ireland, allowing me to develop a more international understanding of the world.”

Co Antrim students Eimear Mcmullan, Matthew Grimsley, Emma Smyth Ewan McComb (Castlerock)* and Indigo Ashbridge (Larne) have all been selected to take part in prestigious Study USA programme

Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland, said:

“We’re delighted to continue this important partnership with the Department of Economy to deliver Study USA, a prestigious programme that has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2014.

“Study USA is a great way for Northern Ireland students to connect with another country, to really get to understand that country through living there for a year, and enhance their CV by developing new skills in an international setting. While in the US, the students will have the opportunity to learn from leading experts in their field, developing intercultural skills that will prepare them for working in a global economy. Most importantly, our students will build links with counterparts in the United States that will last a lifetime.

“We know that this year’s students will be great ambassadors for Northern Ireland and we wish them every success for the exciting year ahead.”

48 students from across Northern Ireland have been selected to take part in prestigious Study USA programme and will spend a year studying in the USA

Also commenting on the programme was Economy Minister Gordon Lyons, he said:

“I’m delighted that my Department is once again working with our partners in the British Council and colleges across North America to deliver Study USA and I want to congratulate all our students who have secured a place in this year’s Study USA programme. A world of opportunity lies in front of them as they begin their studies in colleges right across the United States.

“The benefits of adding an international dimension to our students’ higher education experience are clear. It helps them to widen their horizons, develop personal resilience, confidence and skills, and offers the potential of better academic and employability outcomes in the future.

“My sincere hope is that Study USA helps every student taking part to flourish as an individual and in due course they find a way to pay it forward, and make a positive contribution to their communities and to Northern Ireland and the wider economy on their return.

“I wish all of our students safe travels, that they make the most of the opportunities that are coming their way, and have a fantastic time.”

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 the British Council’s work in Northern Ireland visit or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

To find out more about the programme, visit:


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