Cookies on the Belfast Met website

We use cookies to ensure that you receive the best experience of our website. By continuing to use our website you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information about cookies and how to manage them, read our Cookie Policy.

Toggle navigation

News and Events

Belfast Met Alumni Awarded Uversity Scholarships

Published: 8 October 2020

Belfast Met is delighted that four of its graduates, Jamaica De Guzman, Paula Downey, Megan Peaches Jennings and Ronan McClelland have been awarded Higher Education Scholarships for Adult Learners from Registered Charity Uversity to pursue Bachelor’s Degrees at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University.

Uversity’s scholarships are intended to remove financial barriers so adult learners can unlock their potential and realise their ambitions and support recipients to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree for the first time in participating third level institutions in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.

Welcoming the 2020/21 Scholars, Uversity’s Interim Chair Brian O’Sullivan remarked, “We’re really delighted in this difficult year to have found 41 individuals with the drive and the ambition to take the courageous step to change course and attend university having not had that opportunity at an earlier stage. Uversity scholars demonstrate huge potential to be successful in their chosen fields of study. They have a vision for how to apply their degrees to advance.”

Jamaica, Paula, Megan and Ronan were 4 of 650 applicants who had to demonstrate academic potential, a clear motivation and ambition for returning to education, a drive to succeed, strong work ethic and financial need.

Louise Warde Hunter, Principal and Chief Executive at Belfast Met said, “Belfast Met’s Access to University courses provide pathways to a wide range of degree courses, giving learners many different progression routes into Higher Education, and the Uversity Scholarship is life changing for them.

“On behalf of the College I am immensely proud of Paula, Ronan, Jamaica and Megan on receiving Uversity’s scholarships. They have demonstrated ambition and determination to continue their education journey, and I wish them every success with their future studies.”

Jamaica De Guzman, 30, is now at Queen’s University Belfast studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Software Engineering, was born in the Philippines, arrived in the UK 16 years ago and is currently living in Belfast City.

Jamaica, delighted with her award, said, “Belfast Met opened the doors for me into University life with my Access Diploma in Computing for The Economy, validated by Ulster University.” Jamaica volunteers with Cancer Fund for Children, You Glow Girl Northern Ireland and the British Heart Foundation because she believes small steps can make a change in someone's life.

Paula Downey, from North Belfast is studying a BA in English and History at Queen’s University Belfast. Paula completed Belfast Met’s Access Course has provided an excellent foundation to her degree. She spent the last fifteen years as a self-employed consultant, assisting employers in identifying and assessing the most suitable candidates for recruitment and coaching those seeking career progression. In 2019 she commenced a five-year plan to enable her to teach English to speakers of other languages and plans to open an affordable-to-all language school in Belfast.

Ronan McClelland is studying a BSc in Applied Medical Science at Ulster University and completed an Access Diploma in Foundation Studies at Belfast Met last year. Ronan had a fourteen-year career as an IT Systems engineer before retraining as a fitness professional and decided to return to formal education to leverage these experiences and his life-long interest in science. He is determined to integrate his existing technology experience with the biomedical sciences, and a passion to make a difference in the world.

Megan Peaches Jennings is now a BSc Psychology student at Queen’s University. Megan completed an Access Diploma in Humanities and Social Sciences at Belfast Met and intends to explore the therapeutic benefit of animals in mental health treatment during her degree and qualification as a clinical psychologist.


Student Profiles

Jamaica De Guzman
Queen’s University Belfast
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Software Engineering with Placement


Leaving school without formal qualifications, Jamaica worked for twelve years in multinational hospitality and retail companies. During this time she was exposed to integrated software and hardware solutions which tested the depths of her knowledge of technology and capabilities in complex computational problems. Wanting to qualify as a software engineering, Jamaica enrolled on a Diploma in Computing for the Economy to prepare for her degree. Jamaica volunteers with Cancer Fund for Children, You Glow Girl Northern Ireland and the British Heart Foundation because she believes small steps can make a change in someone's life.

Paula Downey
Queen’s University Belfast
Bachelor of Arts (Honours), English & History

Paula reluctantly left school early in 1985 to work full-time. Despite squeezing night-school and vocational qualifications between her work and voluntary commitments, Paula’s dream to complete her education failed to materialise. She spent the last fifteen years as a self-employed consultant, assisting employers in identifying and assessing the most suitable candidates for recruitment and coaching those seeking career progression. Noting an increasing number of international applicants experiencing disadvantage due to their English language proficiency, Paula identified an opportunity to help. In 2019 she commenced a five-year plan to enable her to teach English to speakers of other languages with particular emphasis on preparing jobseekers for success. Completing Belfast Metropolitan College’s Access Course provided an excellent foundation to her degree. Paula ultimately plans to open an affordable-to-all language school in Belfast.


Ronan McClelland
Ulster University
Bachelor of Science (Honours), Applied Medical Science

Ronan had a fourteen year career as an IT systems engineer before retraining as a fitness professional. Recently he has worked as a full stack web developer. He decided to return to formal education to leverage these experiences and his life-long interest in science. In 2019/20 Ronan completed an Access Diploma in Foundation Studies in Belfast Metropolitan College. He is determined to integrate his existing technology experience with the biomedical sciences and a passion to make a difference in the world.

< view all news items