Table: Summary of key student information
|University:||University of Minnesota|
Tell me a bit about your back‑story: Where did you grow up? How would you define your formative years?
I grew up in small town called Waterford in Wisconsin. I lived in the country and spent a lot of my time outdoors. I started college at a small private college, transferred twice and ended up at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities studying journalism.
Tell me a bit about an issue you care passionately about.
I am very passionate about journalism. I believe it has a responsibility to inform the public accurately and honestly about local, national and world issues. News and media can have a huge impact, positive and negative, on issues, events, conflicts and peace. I am very passionate about the impact and influence it can have on society and want encourage that impact to be a positive one.
Why did you choose to do the course?
I choose this HECUA course as my study abroad experience because I have always wanted to visit the island of Ireland. I knew very little about the conflict but wanted to learn more. I felt like a more complete and deeper understanding of conflict and the process of reconciliation and peace would be beneficial to my reporting abilities.
Was the course what you expected?
The course was pretty much what I expected. I really liked having the opportunity to live and work in Northern Ireland. I felt like I had a life here rather than just visiting as a student.
What was the most memorable field speaker or class activity on your programme and why?
Our programme director Nigel was actually the most memorable and influential speaker for me. His love, humanity, ability to push us as individuals was incredibly inspirational to me.
Where did you intern while participating in the programme? What did you like most about your internship and in what area did you grow the most?
I interned at Headliners Foyle in Derry. I really enjoyed working in a non‑profit media organization that empowered young people and gave them a voice. I enjoyed the challenge of working with young people for the first time and would like to continue to do so in the future.
What were/are your impressions of your HECUA program director?
I am really thankful that Nigel was our programme director. I feel like I was able to learn and understand more thanks to him. He facilitated meaningful meetings with relevant speakers who touched us so many levels. He guided and helped us when we needed it but also knew when we needed to learn through facing challenges without him. He was so welcoming and made me feel comfortable and empowered.
What were the most challenging aspects of this programme?
The programme challenged me to learn more about myself than I ever expected. I had to ask myself many questions that I had never considered before.
What advice would you give to others considering this programme?
This programme is amazing and it is also emotionally challenging. I didn’t expect to become so emotionally involved in the concepts we learned. You need to have at least a small interest in social change, peace, justice, reconciliation, etc. to really benefit from this programme.
How did this programme make an impact on your life and how you think about your future?
This programme really showed me the power of love, for good and for bad. I definitely look at conflict and peace in a different way and I feel I will be able to look at the world with a more critical eye. I would also like to work with young people in the future, something that I never would have considered if it wasn’t for my experiences in Northern Ireland.