Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Youngest by a year, class act Rachel clocks up 5A* grades

Star pupil: Rachel Nelson celebrates. Photo: courtesy of Down Recorder

She's top of the class – and she's a year younger than all her classmates.

Rachel Nelson from Downpatrick has soared to the top of the A-Level league tables with an amazing 5A*s.

The Down High pupil who is going on to study medicine is one of the top achievers in Northern Ireland.

Rachel just turned 18 in July as she skipped a year in primary school.

On receiving her results she said: "I'm absolutely delighted and just very grateful for all the hard work my teachers have put in as well."

The impressive student said that despite the stress and hard work, her sixth year was the best.

She said: "It was stressful, especially with trying to apply to university through the Ucas system and studying for exams, but it was also the best year of school – upper sixth was a brilliant year.

"So I still really enjoyed it despite all the hard work – everyone was just making the most of it."

She studied biology, chemistry, French, maths and further maths – but said her favourite was chemistry.

"It was my favourite subject because I'm going on to do medicine, it combines my other subjects as well," she said.

Rachel has been in Uganda for the month of July with the charity Fields of Life and said it was only when she came back that it dawned on her just how close the results day was.

She said: "I was very nervous, but I was in Uganda for the month of July and I was so busy there I didn't realise just how close the results were.

"It was only when I came home and everyone else was counting down.

"This morning (Thursday) I was very nervous but I was able to access them online. I think when you have to open the piece of paper in front of everybody at school it's a lot more pressure."

Outside of her studies, Rachel enjoys singing, playing the flute and volunteering with the Fields of Life charity.

She said having her interests helped her keep a good balance with her work.

She added: "I found if you were organised and if I had something like my music, or meeting friends to look forward to, it made work a whole lot more manageable.

"You are able to still do it to a high standard and even during study leave I was able to get a good work/play balance and just get lots of exercise."

Rachel has been accepted to study medicine at Queen's University and said she can't wait.

"For most of my secondary education I have wanted to do medicine.

"I'm really excited about it. It's a great course and I can't wait to get started and out in the city and in to the hospitals."

She added: "I hope that Queen's will open up many opportunities for me to travel and do medicine in lots of exciting places.

"I'm really looking forward to that."

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