Irish Studies News Detail

Center for Irish Studies Welcomes Visiting Student from Northern Ireland
11/17/2017

The William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas (UST) sponsored a visiting student for the 2017-2018 academic year. Niall Ponsford, a student from Queen’s University Belfast, arrived in Houston in August as part of the Study USA Program for students from universities and colleges within Northern Ireland.

Originally from the small town of Colchester in southeast England, Niall sought to experience new cultures and embrace new opportunities. Following completion of high school, he enrolled at Queen’s University Belfast to obtain an undergraduate degree in philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE). It was during his time in Northern Ireland that he learned of the Study USA Program sponsored by the British Council. Knowing that an international qualification in the United States would present an excellent opportunity to expand his academic and cultural horizons, Niall applied for the study abroad program and was accepted. “This unique opportunity would serve to improve my future employability in line with my goals to enter the civil service, as well as offer me the freedom to experience a new culture in an engaging new environment,” stated Ponsford.

While at UST, Niall pursued courses offered through the University’s Cameron School of Business to distinguish him from other candidates attempting to enter the civil service. The more intimate class size and low student to instructor ratio bolstered his ability to convey information in an academic setting.

Niall “weathered” Hurricane Harvey with many of the other students in the Guinan dormitory on campus. He stated that he had never been through a hurricane. He was struck by “how quickly people came together, their work ethic and their preparedness.” He said he had never lived anywhere that he needed sunscreen every day and enjoyed the warm weather of Houston. The University of St. Thomas was on his list of desired universities because it was in a big city with warm weather.

Niall was the eleventh student sponsored by UST through the Center for Irish Studies on the Study USA Program.



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The William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston is the only Irish Studies academic program in the Southwest. The Center serves as a focal point for the study and appreciation of Irish and Northern Irish history, literature, politics, law, language, music, art, drama, culture and society.
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