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Bellaghy woman Niamh O Reilly is celebrating achieving a first class honours degree in International Hospitality Management from Ulster University. Despite completing a five thousand word dissertation and final exams during lockdown while juggling childcare responsibilities and a job with the Beannchor Group, Niamh is graduating in the top percentile of her class.

The former St Mary’s College Student joined Ulster University in 2018 to study International Hospitality Management after years spent travelling Australia ignited an interest in kick starting a career in the hospitality industry.

Niamh commented:

“I’ve always had a keen interest in tourism and hospitality and as the industry in Northern Ireland has experienced continued success I knew I could combine my skills and interests to really make a difference and to kick start a career in an industry that I love.

I started my degree as a single parent to my one year old daughter so from the very start it was extremely important for me to find the right balance, the support from the university throughout has been outstanding and I’d like to pay special thanks to my supervisor Nikki McQuillan who was always just a phone call away. Lockdown brought a range of challenges but I’m really proud that I’ve been able to come through them and achieve a first class honors degree. Although Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the tourism industry here, I can’t wait to put the skills and knowledge I’ve learnt at Ulster to play my part in getting the industry back on its feet and drive the NI economy."

Niamh has secured a job with Beannchor Group and hopes to follow a career in business development.

Ulster’s Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism courses have been ranked first out of 54 higher education institutions in the UK in the latest Complete University Guide 2021, up three places on last year.

Subject specific course awards in the independent UK university league table are based on five core measures including; student satisfaction, research quality, research intensity, entry standards and graduate prospects.