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Scholarship winner announced 2 January 2013

FORMER Ballakermeen High School student Siobhan Walshe is the winner of the 2013 Ella Olesen Scholarship.

Siobhan, 21, of Fairway Close, Onchan, will follow a long line of local students in spending nine months among the 12,000 students at the University of Idaho in the USA from this summer.Siobhan Walshe

The scholarship is named after the late Miss Ella Olesen, a former registrar of the university who died in 1985. Her Manx ancestry – her mother Margaret Teare was born in Ballaugh and emigrated to America in 1890 – led her to gift the scholarship in 1971. It is awarded annually to a female degree student who has been supported through her studies by the Department of Education and Children.

Forming the interview panel for this year’s scholarship were Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children, and John Gill, Head of Legal and Administrative Services. They short-listed and interviewed six applicants before selecting Siobhan. Candidates also chatted by Skype with 2010 scholar Katie Taylor, who has returned to Idaho to study for a PhD.

Siobhan is working towards an MA in history at Edinburgh University and graduates this summer.

A former team Isle of Man swimmer and qualified lifeguard, she captains her university’s water polo second team and works with teammates to coach primary school children in the sport. She is looking forward to all the sporting opportunities Idaho Vandals will offer.

Siobhan has volunteered for Hospice in the Island and, in Edinburgh, is taking part in a global partnership project in which she and six friends are raising £10,000 towards improvements to a primary school they will carry out next summer. She’ll have the chance to do similar charity work in America.

Once at Idaho, she plans to enrol on credits in political science, public administration and international studies and further her interest in literature, which she’s combining in her dissertation, taking advantage of the fact the American university covers American Indian writing and greats such as Virginia Woolf.

Siobhan said meeting students from all over the world at Edinburgh, and visiting Thailand and Cambodia during a summer break, had confirmed she wanted to travel and experience new cultures. She said:

‘At first I could not believe I had been chosen as the Ella Olesen scholar to go to Idaho. It was an amazing early Christmas present. To live and study abroad is a long-held personal aspiration and I cannot wait to live in such an international setting and make the most of everything Idaho has to offer.’

The current scholarship holder is Melissa Bell, 22, of Onchan. She began studying in Idaho last August and will be there until May 2013. During the autumn semester, the former King William’s College student, who graduated in criminology and psychology from the University of West England, has studied addiction counselling. She is an intern for two charities and is training to be a mentor for those with Asberger’s syndrome.

She volunteers at a warehouse that supplies a food shelter. She will learn sign language in the semester ahead. She also spent a day teaching at a school, teaching four to nine-year-olds about the Island. She has attended her first rodeo and her first ice hockey match and has featured in the local newspaper, dancing at homecoming games.

Melissa wished her successor well and said:

‘It has been incredible to meet so many people from some many different countries and to be involved in their cultural celebrations and rituals. I was overwhelmed by how friendly people are out here and how generous they can be, too. The tiny town of Moscow, Idaho, and the university take pride in being a close community.
‘The university offers such a huge variety of courses to enrol in, you are spoilt for choice when narrowing down to just the few credits it’s necessary to take.
‘I would like to offer huge congratulations to the privileged new Ella Olesen scholar. It is an achievement and an honour to be picked to represent such an incredibly fascinating little Island.’

Photo: Siobhan Walshe

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