The Northern Ireland Mentorship Program has completed its first successful year, concluding with a graduation ceremony for the initial 16 participants at the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York City last Wednesday.

A crowd of almost 70 gathered for the ceremony which marked the success of the program’s pilot year. The program places recent graduates from Northern Ireland with a U.S. corporation for a one-year period.

Participating companies include the Coca-Cola Company, UBS, Bank of America, HSBC, HBO, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG and Moet Hennessy.

Founded by former U.S. economic envoy to Northern Ireland Declan Kelly and supported by the American Ireland Fund, the program is now beginning its second year with another group of participants arriving in the U.S. over the coming months.

Delivering a rousing speech, 2011 graduate Peter Edgar from Co. Down spoke about how the participants will share their wealth of experience once they return home.


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“Each of the participants now has a role to play,” Edgar, who worked with the Almac Group in Philadelphia, told the crowd.

“At this exciting time we need to capitalize on this moment, and we need to maximize the benefit for people at home.  Having this energetic group of creative young leaders will be a great asset to our development. We can use our skills and qualities to help those in Northern Ireland realize their potential and take advantage of future prospects.”

Kelly praised the participants for exhibiting talent and enthusiasm during their work placements.

“You are a credit to your families, you are a credit to your schools and you are a credit to yourselves,” Kelly told the assembled crowd.

“You should be very proud of the people that you have become.  I have seen you all grow and change over the course of this year.

“Be proud, never forget what you have learned or forget who you are. If you stand by those principals you will always be successful,” Kelly concluded.