From education to employment

Northern Regional College opened up opportunities for aspiring young scientist

With GCSE results out next week, young people will have to make important decisions about what to do next and where to do it.

Faced with what may seem like a bewildering range of choices and possibilities, it is important to know and understand what the different options involve so they can make the right decision.   

FE Colleges like Northern Regional College offer a wide range of vocational, technical, and professional courses, from entry level up to and including degree level so time taken to check out what is available at local FE colleges will be time well spent.      

With 10 GSCEs, including seven A and A*s, Georgia Rafferty, an aspiring young scientist from Whitehead, County Antrim was encouraged to stay at school to do A levels but she wasn’t happy at school and wanted a change of pace. 

She enrolled at the Northern Regional College’s Newtownabbey campus to do a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Applied Science (Analytical and Forensic Science). Two years on and she can confidently say that ‘it was one of her best decisions ever’.

Georgia explained: “When I got my results, I was still undecided about what to do next, so I investigated my options. After speaking to staff and students at the College, I realised that there were so many courses available, some of which I hadn’t even considered. I applied to do the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Applied Science the day the results came out and was accepted on the course the same day.

“Science is such a wide and interesting area, and the course opened my eyes to the many different and exciting career opportunities there are in science. I had a very positive experience at the College and enjoyed everything about the course, particularly learning about forensic science and investigating simulated crime scenes.”

Studying science at Northern Regional College has given Georgia many remarkable opportunities, including an expenses paid trip of a lifetime to Australia during the summer.

Georgia was one of five young scientists from across the UK to secure a scholarship to attend the prestigious Professor Harry Messel International Science School (ISS) 2023 in Sydney, Australia.

Last year, she secured a Nuffield Foundation Placement Award to participate in a research project in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University, Belfast. 

She continued: “The Nuffield Research Placement programme opened the doors to further opportunities for me to develop my science skills and knowledge.”

One opportunity to catch her eye was an email about the ISS programme in Australia.

“As soon as I saw it, I decided right there and then to give it a shot. I filled out the application form and was able to use my research work from the Nuffield Placement Award to complete it.”

Georgia admitted that she cried when she heard her application had been successful.

“I have never been so thankful for checking my emails in my life! It was like a dream come true. My family are all so proud – as well as a bit jealous – of me!”

Georgia applied to five universities to study Forensic Anthropology and Pathology and although she received offers from all five, she has turned them down following her experience with the ISS.

“I decided that I needed a few gap years to experience life and I may even go to university in Australia.

“Professor Messel once wrote on a blackboard that the secret to gaining knowledge was 1. think; 2. hard work; 3. hard work and 4. hard work.

“I have worked hard for my opportunities and will continue to work hard to show that everyone has the capabilities to put their mind to whatever they want to do in life.” 

Northern Regional College offers a range of full-time courses in Science, from Level 2 up to and including Higher National Certificate. Visit us at our Enrolment Days to find out more.  Full details about enrolment are available here.

Related Articles