Queen's University Belfast student Niamh Mackin has been named Study USA Student of the Year.
The 21-year-old Law student from Belfast spent a year studying business at Marymount University, Virginia and hopes to use the experience to pursue a career in commercial law.
Niamh was among 50 students from Northern Ireland to successfully graduate from the programme and was recently honoured at a graduation ceremony at the MAC in Belfast.
Niamh was named Student of the Year after achieving top academic marks and for an essay highlighting how her experience has helped further her employability. This year's award also saw fellow Queen's student Lisa McCann named as runner-up alongside Alice McElroy, who currently studies at St Mary's University College, Belfast.
Speaking about the award, Niamh said: "My Study USA experience was truly the experience of a lifetime. It gave me an enormous confidence boost and I discovered that I could push myself further then I had ever imagined and even thrive in a challenging and unfamiliar environment.
"Studying business at Marymount University has affirmed my decision to pursue a career in commercial law and helped me to develop skills that will be invaluable in achieving this. In particular, I have enhanced my employability by improving my commercial awareness, refining my communication skills and developing a unique international perspective.
"Overall, I have grown in ways that I never would have if I had stayed home, allowing me to become the best version of myself and fully equipped for my future."
Commending the programme was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland.
He said: "Congratulations to Niamh and 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 helped strengthened cultural, economic and educational links and connections between the two countries.
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 2,000 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.
Students interested in applying for the Study USA 19-20 programme can now apply online at http://nireland.britishcouncil.org. This year students can opt to study business and/or STEM subjects and the deadline for applications for Higher Education Institutions is Monday 12 November 2018 and for Further Education Institutions – Monday 14 January 2019.