Congratulations to Shusma Balaji, recent past pupil of St Dominic’s Grammar School for Girls who is the 2017 Northern Ireland Finalist in the prestigious British Education Awards

The British Education Awards (BEA) were established to promote excellence in education. Open to all students across the UK, these awards identify and celebrate individuals who have excelled within the education system.  As the Northern Ireland Finalist, Shusma’s award acknowledges that success comes down to personal endeavour and application, an incredible achievement on her part. She attended the awards ceremony with her proud parents in the Grand Connaught Rooms in London on 30th January.

St Dominic’s Grammar School for Girls are delighted with Shusma’s achievement but they are not entirely surprised. The Principal of St Dominic’s, Mrs Carol Mc Cann nominated Shusma for the award and acknowledged that she is thoroughly deserving of it.  The school has always had full faith in Shusma who is an extremely enterprising and able young woman. Indeed, whilst at school, she availed of every opportunity to improve and prepare herself for a future career in electronic engineering. She is currently studying at Cambridge University and it is no surprise that she is also the winner of the IET Diamond Jubilee Scholarship for 2016.

Shusma is no stranger to success. In 2015, whilst at school, she was awarded the IET IngeNious Female Award.  Additionally, she was awarded an Arkwright Engineering Scholarship and received sponsorship by Shrader Electronics.  The latter also led to an internship with the company. Through the GETSET Engineering for Girls programme, she gained an internship with Caterpillar.  Acquiring a NUFFIELD Bursary led to work experience with Northern Ireland Electricity where she had the opportunity to visit wind farms, work at substations and visit the Distribution Control Centre.

She also attended the Computer and Space Camps at the University of Ulster   Through attendance at the Computer Camp; she had the opportunity to learn coding and VB Script. The Space Camp provided her with an insight into astrophysics.

Following on from excellent GCSE level results, Shusma was also chosen to represent the school on the Higher Education + programme which has been set up by Cambridge University to nurture gifted and talented students and encourage them to apply for a place at Oxbridge.  Shusma fulfilled her dream when she achieved a place at Cambridge University.

Shusma joined St Dominic’s in Year 8 as a fresh-faced, eager young girl, having arrived directly from India. From her early days, she threw herself enthusiastically into the life of the school. She was extremely popular with both staff and pupils. Despite having English as a second language, it was evident immediately that Shusma had the drive and ambition to achieve her goals and at the same time, she remained grounded, humble, kind and warm.  This gained her the respect of the whole school community and no-one was ever surprised to hear that Shusma had won yet another award.   Coming from India at the age of 11, she did not allow her initial difficulties with English to hold her back and indeed she was the highest achiever in the school in many of her subjects at GCSE and also at A Level.

Shusma remains an inspiration to all young women and both her family and her school are immensely proud of her great success.