Five Belfast schools see smiles after A-Level results
At five Belfast schools yesterday, many students exceeded their own expectations while others weighed their options for the future.
At Malone Integrated College, 18-year-old Matthew Griffiths had struggled with his GCSE studies and shyness, but fought back to earn top grades with an A*, A and A* in double award sport as well as travel and tourism.
"I'd love to go into coaching sports, football is definitely my favourite and it would be great to work for one of the Belfast teams some day," he said.
Matthew's next step is studying sports coaching and development at Belfast Metropolitan College.
Principal Maire Thompson voiced her praise: "We're so pleased for him. Matthew is very shy but now he's our top performance student.
"But I think sometimes when you've had a bit of hardship that can build resilience and determination and as a result of that he came back and worked hard."
Identical twins Emma and Megan McCloskey (18) are both going on to do business studies at Jordanstown.
Emma received grades of A in business studies, C in health and social care and a distinction for travel and tourism.
Megan received an A* in business studies, a distinction in applied science, with a B in health and social care.
Keen runner Rebekah Douglas (18) reached the finish line with three A-grades for double award sport and business studies.
After spending many hours at the books and at the Mary Peters running track, she's bound for Liverpool John Moores University to study sport and nutrition for health.
At Belfast Model School for Girls, Polish-born student Kaja Olzewska (18) has been accepted to study sports rehabilitation at Cumbria with grades of A,B,B for ICT and double award science.
"When I came here originally 11 years ago I wasn't able to speak very much English so it is a big accomplishment for me to get as far as I did today," she said.
"It was a bit of a struggle initially but I'm a go-getter, I'd like to say, as well as very stubborn and hard-working."
Jasmine Higgins (19) has set her sights on a policing career after receiving grades of A,A,B in ICT and double award science with a place at Liverpool John Moores to study biomedical science.
"I really want to work in forensics and pathology with the police, so biomedical science is a good way to get into that. I've been watching loads of the TV show Criminal Minds, so that'll be me."
Jenni Cupples (18) is now looking forward to a psychology degree at Ulster University in Coleraine after receiving grades of B,B,C in sociology, ICT and performing arts.
"I like the idea of mental health care and policing, but you can study both where I'm going so I'll just see which I like best," she said.
At St Malachy's College in west Belfast, 19-year-old Christopher McGuinness came close to receiving the grades needed to study nursing - finishing with grades of B,C,C - but is determined to try again.
"The last year of studying has been pretty stressful but helping people is what appeals to me about nursing, so I'll keep trying," he said.
At the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Angus Harley received four A*s while battling through the intense selection process to be accepted to study engineering at Cambridge University.
"I'm really pleased," he said.
In contrast to the growing popularity of STEM subjects, head boy Theo Millar (18) said his favourite was Latin. Achieving grades of A*,A*,A,A in English literature, Latin, religious education and maths, he has the choice of studying classics at Durham University or Trinity College Dublin.
At St Dominic's Grammar School in west Belfast, the day's second set of identical twins, 17-year-old Megan and Amy Wilkinson, both finished with straight-As in maths and the three sciences for their AS-levels.
A-level student Niamh Hanna (18) is focused on becoming a teacher with a place studying English at Queen's after achieving grades of A,B,B in English, religion and geography.
Caoimhe Stewart (18) is looking forward to studying maths at Queen's after finishing with two A*s and an A in physical education, maths and physics.
Aoife O'Connor (18) is set to follow in her father's footsteps as a PE teacher. She finished with grades of A*, A and B in physical education, Irish and maths, with a place at Ulster University in Jordanstown to study sport and exercise science.
Making the same career choice was Jane McNulty (18). Winning grades of A*,A,A in physical education, religion and psychology, she's yet to decide on studying at Jordanstown, followed by a PGCE, or applying to St Mary's.