When it comes to choosing which university to apply for, Derry student Jack McGeehan is spoilt for choice.
The 17-year-old St Columb’s College pupil is one of just a handful of students in the North to have won an undergraduate scholarship to study in America thanks to a programme run by the Sutton Trust.
It means Jack can choose from a host of top American universities, including Ivy League universities. Study will be over four years and, with tuition fees totalling $250,000 - none of which he has to pay for - it’s expected Jack will be debt-free at the end of his degree.
“I remember when the College spoke to about 20 of us and said we were all eligible for this because of our GCSE results and thinking it was amazing - an all-expenses paid education in the States! It’s surreal, and it’s phenomenal the amount of choice,” said Jack, who said he hopes to study International Relations at either Yale or Brown.
“Hopefully, I’ll go to Yale. We have a week in the US later this month where they take you on campus visits. They invest a lot of money in you over the four years, and they expect a lot back. It’s kind of scary at the same time, because it will be brutal, but I can’t wait. It’s going to be fantastic, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Jack’s dad Ronan said it is a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.
“We always knew Jack was going to be someone special. Even through his primary school at Greenhaw P.S., and the College who put him through for this and to who we are extremely grateful, all his teachers said he would be exceptional in whatever he did. It’s a great opportunity and he deserves it. These opportunities don’t come around every month or year. He did very well in the application, which was very rigorous so, yes, we are very proud of him.”
Jack’s mum, Emer said of 3,000 initial applicants, including 150 students from across the UK, Jack is one of just four students from the North who was successful.
“Jack is one in a million. I know it’s sounds silly, but we’ve always had the feeling we only ever had him on loan. We are stupidly, ridiculously proud of him. It’s excelled at everything he has ever done,” said Emer.
“He has always been a ‘mammy’s boy’, and now he’ll be going to the other side of the world but we can’t hold him back. He is incredibly privileged to get this opportunity, but we are incredibly privileged to be his parents. His primary school, Greenhaw P.S. and the teachers there have been brilliant and my mum, Teresa McDaid has been hugely influential in his life as well.”
Jack is waiting on his A/S results in English, Spanish, Mathematics and Physics and, in the meantime, he wants to enjoy the year before he leaves home, including playing Gaelic football for St. Mary’s Faughanvale GAC.
“The dream is to work for the United Nations.” said the teen.
For now, Jack is preparing final paper work needed for his application and he hopes by December he will have confirmation of which university he will attend next year.