Tuesday 07 May 2019 07:20:52 PM

Killyleagh Student Wins WIP Placement In US
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Killyleagh student Ross Connolly scoops place on a top US leadership programme.

The prestigious Washington Ireland Program (WIP) selects emerging leaders for rigorous programmes of public service and leadership development and Killyleagh student Ross Connolly has been invited to participate in this year’s class.

For more than two decades, WIP has brought together emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds for a transformative program of public service and leadership development. Ross, who is a student of Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Queen’s University, Belfast, was one of the lucky 31 students selected from 16 different universities and institutions across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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Ross Connolly has scooped a place on the Washington Ireland Programme and will be travelling to the US in the summer for two months.

Ross is a former pupil of Down High School. Although he has a keen eye on politics, he is not drawn to it like a moth to the flame of current politics but instead is considering a career in the civil service or the diplomatic service.

He said: “I already have been over in the US on a Politrip exchange with Patrick Brown, a local councillor who set up the exchange programme last year, and I was in Miami last year working as a volunteer with the Democrats during their mid-term election. It was a great experience and gave me a huge insight into American politics.

“I am certainly looking forward to two months again in America on the Washington Ireland Programme. This experience will lift me up to another level in performance. It will be great to mix with other people from different backgrounds from the North and South of Ireland and no doubt I will make friends with some who may grow to be influential in their own areas.

“I love to travel so would like to see a bit of the world. I may go on and take a Masters in Economics at Queen’s which should prove to be a useful stepping stone for me as I try and move into a profession or job.

“I’ll be living with an American family so I’ll experience a real slice of American life and culture.

“For the moment, I am just chilling out after my second year exams and I’ve been following my uncle David Healy’s adventures, as he is the Linfield manager, and I keep an eye on Killyleagh YC too who have been promoted to the Premier league this season. All good news for Killyleagh!

“But what I hope to achieve from this programme with be very beneficial to me… it will teach me skills in respect, dedication, perseverance, confidence, teamwork, critical and strategic thinking, and this will put me in good stead fro a future career wherever I end up.”

WIP supports students to develop their full potential through two core principles – leadership and service. Each student undertakes prestigious work placement at some of the most illustrious and influential levels of professional life in Washington DC and New York, including congressional offices, international corporations, law firms and media organisations.

Bryan Patten, Executive Director of the Washington Ireland Program, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Ross to this year’s Washington Ireland Program class. WIP seeks students who demonstrate leadership potential and have a substantial track record of service. Ross exceeds these requirements and I’m sure he will take full advantage of the busy program of training and development WIP provides.”

When Ross has successfully completed the program, he will join WIP’s other distinguished alumni. This diverse, all-island network share a commitment to shaping the future of Ireland and Northern Ireland. More than 600 alumni, including An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, have graduated from the program and are now excelling in roles across the political, business, legal, entrepreneurial, advocacy and cultural sectors on the island of Ireland.