Three students who have dedicated their spare time to raising the aspirations of pupils from backgrounds where attendance at university is not the norm are graduating from Queen's today.
Grainne Savage from Belleek, James McAlister from west Belfast and Geoffrey Pearson from Limavady have all been ambassadors for the Widening Participation Unit at Queen's University.
It focuses on encouraging and supporting people who have the ability, motivation and potential to succeed at university, but who come from groups that are currently under-represented in higher education within Northern Ireland.
These groups include young people from primary schools, secondary schools and colleges, adult learners, care leavers, students with disabilities and part-time students.
Making a university education a very real and accessible option to people who might not have otherwise considered it, all three students took part in the Head Start programme themselves.
Grainne will graduate with a degree in film studies, James with a degree in history and philosophy and Geoffrey will graduate with a degree in finance.
Grainne said: "The Widening Participation Unit at Queen's is having a huge impact in terms of encouraging students from backgrounds where university might not be considered an obvious choice. Just last week we finished a residential as part of the Queen's Academy which allows students from secondary schools to sample life at university, staying in the Elms Halls, sampling lectures and receiving help in developing CVs and filling out Ucas application forms."
Geoffrey said: "For many, university is a daunting option but through the Widening Participation Unit we are able to engage with students and dispel the myth that university is not an option. The opportunities give students the support and skills which are essential to being ready for the workplace once we graduate."