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Scholarship winner announced 3 January 2007

NATALIE Evans, of Ballacriy Park, Colby, is the winner of this year’s Ella Olesen Scholarship. Natalie Evans

Natalie, 20, will follow a long line of local students in spending nine months among the 12,000 students at Idaho University in the USA from this summer.

The scholarship is the legacy of the late Miss Ella Olesen, a former registrar of the university. Her Manx ancestry led her to gift the scholarship to a female graduate who has been supported through her studies by the Department of Education.

Natalie left Castle Rushen High School with five A-levels and is in her final year of a music degree at Manchester University. She will graduate in July.

A talented piano and violin player, she has been a member of the university’s symphony orchestra and has won several prizes in the Island for her musical ability. One of her compositions was recently performed at a special concert. She is heavily involved in the Student Network, run in conjunction with the BBC, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Manchester Camerata, which aims to get more students interested and involved in concerts.

Natalie was involved in the university’s Music Events Society, in its student radio station, Fuse FM, and in the Community Arts North Western team. She has played badminton for her university. She also took part in a mentoring project for new students.

She eventually hopes for a career in events management.

Natalie is now excitedly studying the prospectus ahead of starting at Idaho University in August, but says music will definitely be among the modules she studies and she may resume her art work. At A-level she received top grades out of nearly 900 students in the North West for graphic art.

Natalie said:

‘I couldn’t believe it when I heard I had won the scholarship. I was screaming and jumping up and down. It is a dream come true to think I could be studying in America because it is an amazing country and I have always wanted to see more of it.’

On the interview panel for this year’s scholarship were new Minister of Education Anne Craine MHK, Manager of the Legal and Administrative Support Unit John Gill and the 2006 winner of the scholarship, Helen Jackson.

Helen, 21, of Ballameanagh Road, Baldrine, began studying in Idaho last August and will be there until May. She said:

‘The Ella Olesen Scholarship provides a fantastic opportunity to live and study in another country. It is distinct from other scholarships in that the scholar is given complete discretion to choose which classes she wishes to study, meaning that it truly is a life-enriching experience. I have enjoyed having the freedom to study different classes without being tied to the core requirements of a specific degree.’

Helen continued:

‘Moscow, where the university is situated, is located in the heart of the Pacific North West, meaning that Canada, the states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Montana and Wyoming are all within travelling distance. ‘At weekends and holidays such as Thanksgiving, I have enjoyed travelling with friends to various places such as Idaho Falls, Farragut State Park, Montana, and Seattle.

‘The scholarship has provided me with a unique opportunity to study and live in another country, meet people from all over the world and undertake activities I had not experienced before such as skiing, white-water rafting and Pilates.’ Helen said Natalie could expect a warm welcome from two former neighbours of Miss Olesen, who will help her settle into her new home.

She said:

‘The scholarship is very well organised. An American couple called Duane and Phyllis LeTourneau greet the new scholar each year from the airport and provide a home away from home, which is very welcoming. They have provided this comfort for 40 Manx girls over the years and were neighbours of the late Miss Olesen.

‘After staying with Duane and Phyllis for a few days, the scholar moves into university accommodation. The Global Village accommodation has been chosen by scholars for the past three academic years as it is newly built and provides an excellent opportunity to live with both international and American students.'

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