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Inspirational Ulster University Criminology and Criminal Justice student Gabrielle Nugent graduates today in the knowledge that her work has already been lauded on a global scale.

When the Parkgate woman collects her degree it's a lesson to others to never give up on their dreams...or education.

Initially Gabrielle studied Criminology and Criminal Justice on a part-time basis because she did not secure the necessary grades to be a full-time student.

Undeterred Gabrielle worked so hard that she attained the scores which allowed her to complete the course as a full-time student.

Part-time or full-time, throughout her degree, this young lady is a credit to herself, her family and Ulster University.

Last year she was placed on the Dean's List and awarded the sought after Santander Mobility Scholarship. The mobility grants offered by Santander Universities are given to national and international students to study at a university within the Santander Universities network.

Just as impressive, thanks to her endeavour, imagination and research skills she won the Global Studies award, which recognises the best School-wide dissertation with an international element.

Gabrielle's dissertation, which won her the prestigious prize, related to the War on Terror in Afghanistan.

She explains: "I applied to a program called DC Internships which offered the chance to study and intern in Washington DC for eight weeks during the summer.

"I attended classes in International Foreign Policy and Economics at George Mason University and interned full time in the US Department of Transport, Office of Safety and Security.

"This experience was invaluable and through this I was able to incorporate an international dimension to my studies at Ulster University.

"I carried out interviews for my dissertation while in DC, addressing whether the War on Terror in Afghanistan was viewed as a success or stalemate in terms of measurable progress.

"As a result of this international experience I found out I won the Global Studies award through Ulster University, an award supported by Rider University in the US to recognise the best School-wide dissertation with an international element."

Gabrielle thanked Ulster University and paid a generous tribute to her lecturers for helping her live this American dream. "I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and it would not have been possible without the qualifications I gained at Ulster University and the references provided by my Course Director," she said.

"Throughout my time at Ulster University I have felt supported by the lecturers – they are always welcoming and happy to help out. It is their passion and enthusiasm for the course content that made the course even more enjoyable and interesting. Undoubtedly every effort was made throughout the course to increase employability which I feel has better prepared me for life after university.

"In 2014 I was placed on the Dean's List and awarded the Santander Mobility Scholarship; this was awarded as a result of undertaking unpaid work in relation to my course in a country within the Santander Universities network and attaining the highest average score at the June 2014 Exam Boards. I feel so privileged to have been able to make the most of my time at Ulster University and I am incredibly grateful for the experience."

Gabrielle hopes to further her education by commencing a Masters degree in September. Following that she aims to put forward a proposal for PhD study.