Scholarship to US college 'life-changer' for Darren
A Belfast grammar school student has won an ultra-prestigious scholarship worth over a quarter-of-a-million dollars.
Wellington College sixth former Darren McCarroll was chosen for the Fulbright program Presidential Scholarship in the United States after an extremely tough selection process.
The 17-year-old, from Church Road, Ballynahinch, is a deputy head boy at the Belfast grammar school and after he finishes his A-levels this summer he will be off to the University of Richmond, Virginia.
Darren described the win as a "life-changer", revealing that he even gave up playing rugby to focus on capturing the coveted US study prize.
"It all started with a series of introductory short essays and video interviews," he said.
"Then there was a series of exams stretching through March and April, which involved travelling to London.
"Next there was a filtering process, with the list of candidates reduced. After that, there was another series of tests, this time over a couple of days, at the London School of Economics."
Another exam followed in Dublin, with the final format to clinch the Presidential Scholarship seeing Darren sitting what is known in the US as the 'ACT' - the American College Test.
Richmond University, one of the US-wide campuses participating in the internationally renowned Fulbright scheme, snapped up the Co Down teen.
He'll be moving this autumn to Richmond, where he'll be based for the next four years on a scholarship worth $280,000 (almost £230,000) to study business and economics.
"I am still absolutely in awe at getting a place at the University of Richmond," added Darren.
"I really have to thank the university, the Sutton Trust (which oversees the scholarship programme), my teachers at Wellington and so many others for the opportunities and support they have given me."
Wellington principal David Castles said: "We are so proud of his achievement. He's a young man with a great future and I wish him every success."