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Blackpool Sixth student gains Yale place

Blackpool Sixth student gains Yale place

Keiran Mitchell, 18, from Fleetwood, who is completing his A levels at The Blackpool Sixth Form College has won a place and a financial aid package to study at a top US university after participating in the Sutton Trust US Programme, run in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission. Keiran will take up his place at Yale University in Connecticut this autumn.

Yale is famous around the world as one of the prestigious Ivy League institutions and is the alma mater of many celebrated alumni such as US presidents Bill Clinton, George H. W Bush and George W. Bush as well as a host of Nobel prize winners, business leaders and writers.

Amazingly, Keiran will be the second Blackpool Sixth student in the space of five years to go to Yale, following in the footsteps of Lucinda Denney and the third to attend an Ivy League institution with Gemma Collins currently completing her degree at Harvard University. All three were supported through the Sutton Trust programme.

Last year, Keiran was one of 150 students selected for the programme, which included a summer school in the US at either Yale University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Keiran attended the one at Yale. They competed with over 1,000 applicants to win a place on the programme and spent a week living on campus and visiting many other US universities. The students benefited from residential activities and received an intensive programme of support, delivered by the US-UK Fulbright Commission over several months before and after their US visit, which covered admission tests, college choices and the application process. The aim of the Sutton Trust US Programme is to encourage academically talented British students from low and moderate income homes to consider studying at American universities.

Keiran, who is a former Cardinal Allen Catholic High School, said that the idea of studying at one of the top universities in the world first came to him during his final years at secondary school. He visited New York and Washington DC on a school history visit and loved it. He also liked the sound of the liberal arts degrees offered in the US which allow for a breadth of study across different disciplines. He said, “I’m so excited to be able to study in the US for four years and get a liberal arts degree out of it. I can thank the people at the Fulbright Commission, the Sutton Trust US Programme, Blackpool Sixth and my teachers at Cardinal Allen enough for all the help they’ve given me.”

Keiran said that the support he had had from staff at Blackpool Sixth was crucial in him securing the coveted place at Yale, “Michael Waterhouse (the head of the college’s Excellence Programme) put in a huge amount of work in helping me with the application and my subject teachers were all incredibly helpful, providing me with extra materials to stretch my knowledge well beyond the curriculum.”

Michael Waterhouse commented, “Keiran is a fantastic student who has really made the most of opportunities available to him through the Excellence Programme.  I’m certain that he will go on to be extremely successful at Yale and will be a credit to Blackpool Sixth.  It’s fantastic to see students from the Fylde Coast progressing to such world-renowned institutions and I wish Keiran all the best.”

Cardinal Allen Catholic High School headteacher, Andrew Cafferkey, said “It is a fantastic achievement for Keiran and his family and a great credit to him for all his hard work. We would like to think that Cardinal Allen had played a part in his success.” Keiran who studies French, history and English literature at Blackpool Sixth, will be the first in his family to go to university. He said that his family were delighted by his success and his granny is particularly keen to visit him at Yale.

Outside his studies, Keiran is very active supporting good causes in his community, such as a friend’s campaign to save the park on Mariner’s Close in Fleetwood and he has also been working on projects to support young people with mental health issues. This wider involvement in the world beyond academic studies is something Keiran is looking forward to pursuing when he is at Yale. He will be expected to have some part-time work whilst studying and to participate in the many extra-curricular opportunities on offer at the Ivy League institution.

Keiran is particularly looking forward to the international dimension of life at Yale, where he will meet students from all over the world. This will certainly help him in his plans to pursue a career in politics or diplomacy after completing graduate studies.

Sir Peter Lampl, Founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust and Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “America’s leading universities are bastions of progressive values and outstanding education. Their campuses are welcoming places for international students, whatever country or social background they come from.  “I’m delighted that 42 state school students have won places to study in the States. They will benefit from a broad and varied curriculum as well as in-depth study and generous funding for both tuition and living costs. “I hope more young people will look to their success and realise that a university education in the States is well within their grasp.”

Penny Egan CBE, Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, said: “These results echo the wider continuing upward trend of British students choosing US universities for their undergraduate studies. American universities offer an experience that is very different to that of a UK university and are actively looking for students from diverse backgrounds from across the UK to join their next intake. We are proud that this programme is successfully tapping into this demographic and giving these young people the chance of a lifetime.”