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Loughgiel teen taking an affordable route to business degree

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An ambitious County Antrim teenager completed a Diploma in Business with ICT at Northern Regional College in Ballymena while holding down a full-time job during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Hannah McKeown (18) from Loughiel completed the two-year Extended Level 3 Diploma – which is an equivalent standard of 3 A levels – while working for the Business Services Organisation from home. She plans to return to the College in September to enrol on the HNC in Business and then progress to do a Business Studies degree, which is also available at the Ballymena campus.

“This is a lot more affordable than going to university to do a degree – and it’s also closer to home,” she said pragmatically.

Hannah explained that she got a job with BSO last summer and, when she returned to College in September 2019 to do the second year of the Diploma, she was offered part-time work with the organisation. BSO provides regional business support services to the health and social care sector in Northern Ireland. Hannah accepted the opportunity and said her part-time job really helped her understanding of the relevance and application of what they were learning in class.

She attended College four days a week and worked one day with BSO but since the lockdown in March, Hannah has worked full-time for BSO from home in an accounts role processing invoices. She said she would no hesitation recommending studying at Northern Regional College to anyone interested in Business.

Hannah said: “I have 10 GCSEs so could have stayed on at school to do my A Levels, but I didn’t think that was the right decision for me. If I had stayed at school, I would have had to pick an A level subject I wasn’t really interested in. I knew that I would enjoy learning all about business but because I’m still not sure what area to specialise in, the Level 3 Diploma suited me best and it’s also a good progression route to getting a Business degree.”

“I’ve always been a very practical person and the College has allowed me maintain that approach and I’m looking forward to getting back there in September to start the HNC,” she added.

Lynne Watterson, Year 2 coordinator for BTEC Level 3 Business at the College’s Trostan Avenue campus said Hannah had been a pleasure to teach.

“Hannah was an excellent student who was fully committed to her studies since joining the BTEC Level 3 Business course. She developed a wide range of interpersonal skills and business acumen by combining her studies with her part-time job in an accounts role and this was clearly evident in the high standard of her coursework. Being able to complete her coursework while working full-time during lockdown is a testament to Hannah’s hardworking nature and drive to succeed,” she said.

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