North West Regional College Travel and Tourism graduate Katherine Wilkinson has won the title of Northern Ireland Travel Student of the Year.
Katherine, who completed the Access Diploma in Combined Studies and then the Foundation Degree in International Travel and Tourism Management at Strand Road Campus, was nominated for the award by NWRC Curriculum Manager Luane Quigley.
Finalists included Jennifer Charnley who also studied Travel and Tourism Management at North West Regional College, and students from Southern Regional College and Belfast Met.
Katherine will receive her award at the annual Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa on Friday, October 19.
A self-confessed travel junkie, Katherine was living in Canada when she decided to return to her native Derry after finding out about the Travel and Tourism Foundation Degree at NWRC.
She said: “I took a huge leap of faith moving back home and it has paid off. I absolutely love travel, even the not so glamorous sides of it. I have been travelling since I was 19 and I felt that if I was going to be spending so much of my life travelling it would be in my best interests to gain a recognised qualification whilst doing what I love.
“The chance of a six-month work placement was a huge draw for me, I was able to network with past contacts gaining a work placement at a summer camp in Canada where I previously worked. I gained valuable industry experience and loved every minute of it.”
“Travel fascinates me, I love learning new things and immersing myself in new places, cultures and experiences, I believe that travel and tourism has the ability to bring people together, it has the capacity to change lives and for me it has definitely altered the course of my life and helped shape me into the person that I am today.”
In a varied career Katherine has worked locally, in Canada and with the South Shore YMCA in Cape Cod Massachusetts.
As well as completing the Access Diploma and Foundation Degree at NWRC, Katherine also undertook a number of part time courses at NWRC including Photography and OCN Level 2 in Tour Guiding.
She is now preparing to move to England where she has been accepted by the University of Central Lancashire to study Management in Tourism.
Luane Quigley, Curriculum Manager in Travel and Tourism at NWRC said: “Katherine is the first student from Derry~Londonderry to win the title of Student of the Year, and on behalf of North West Regional College I would like to congratulate her on this success.”
NWRC offers a number of full and part time courses in Travel and Tourism. For more information go to www.nwrc.ac.uk