Our living proof

Poll after poll shows the vast majority of parents would prefer their children to learn together at an integrated school.

Shimna was founded by parents.  However, no parent will choose an integrated school unless it is also an excellent school. Academic achievement matters.  Shimna began because of our strong belief in all-ability, child-centred, truly integrated education, and we are committed to academic excellence for all children. Twenty five years on, we are hugely proud of our former students and glad to show the evidence of their success. Here are just a few examples.  There are so many more….


Orla and Laura left Shimna together, each with four A levels at A and A*, and both have now graduated in medicine, Orla from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Laura from Queen’s University, Belfast. In P7 at All Children’s Primary School, Newcastle, Orla decided to take the transfer test (and got an A) but Laura decided not to take the test.  They joined Shimna together and qualified as doctors at the same time. Orla spent her elective studying in the USA; Laura in both New Zealand and the US. Laura is now a doctor in Belfast City Hospital and Orla in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Gateshead, after a year out travelling in Thailand. 

Their brothers found success in two very different directions. Laura’s brother David is now a fully qualified and very successful plumber. Orla’s brother Ciaran went to the University of Warwick, where he did a BA in Politics and International Studies followed by an MA in International Security, and is now in a senior research post in the UK Civil Service.


Daisy, also from All Children’s, graduated in 2017 in Veterinary Medicine from Queen’s College, University of Cambridge, and is in her first post with Downe Veterinary Clinic. Her brother James has a Bachelor of Law degree, and took his Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Studies. He was called to the Bar and became a barrister in 2015. Seán, his brother, has a BSc in Mathematics and a Masters in Finance, both from QUB, and is currently working in Citigroup's IT department in Belfast. Sister Primrose has graduated from Dundee University in Nursing, and has taken up her first hospital post - and that's just some of the Dillons...


Siún, again from All Children’s, graduated with a first class BA Hons in Anthropology and English from the University of Glasgow, followed up with an MA and PhD in Anthropology at Queen’s, worked at Queen’s University in the School of Planning, researching the effects of Derry/Londonderry’s year as UK City of Culture. In September 2016 she took up a very exciting post at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Shetland, researching the craft traditions of the islands. Creative knitting is her passion, and this post allows her to combine her academic and personal interests perfectly.  She was a founder student at Shimna and at All Children’s IPS. Her brother Danny got his own first class honours degree, this one in Journalism, at the University of Sheffield.  At the same time he worked for his accreditation with the National Council for the Training of Journalists, and went on to qualify as a senior reporter. His first two jobs involved chasing deadlines for two English local newspapers, in print and online, before moving to Edinburgh to be a media manager for Scotrail.  As an avid climber and hill walker, he has followed in Siun's footsteps in combining professional and personal interests by taking up a post as Events Manager for The Ramblers' Association, Scotland.


St Mary’s Primary School, Newcastle was where Sorcha went to school before coming to Shimna and going on to a BA Honours in Drama and English at Queen’s University Belfast. She works in Belfast on a freelance basis for various arts organisations such as Wheelworks, and is also a Disability Equality Trainer.


St Mary’s Newcastle also sent us Leah, now Instrumentation Specialist for the whole of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s operation in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. She graduated with first class honours in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Ulster.


Newcastle Primary School was where Philip, William, Gordon and Graham began their education. Philip went from Shimna to Queen’s University Belfast to study Mathematics and Computer Science. From there he was accepted into three scholarships with Google, where he was paid to work alongside a mentor to create operating systems software, and later to work for WANdisco in Belfast and San Francisco, on large data processing. Currently he is at the New York Stock Exchange/Euronext (Belfast) developing Trading Systems for HSBC and other major banks. In September 2013 Philip published a book on a new programming language. His Mum kindly donated a copy to our computing department! The second edition is now in print.


William from Newcastle Primary School also shone at Shimna and at Queens University Belfast, graduating with a Masters in Structural Engineering with Architecture. He is currently in Hong Kong working as a Graduate Engineer.


Gordon, also formerly of Newcastle Primary, always knew he wanted to be a fashion designer, and worked hard while at Shimna to take the first steps towards achieving his ambition. We currently have a display of his beautiful hats in Shimna’s Forbes building. He graduated with a BA Hons Fashion Management degree at Belfast Metropolitan College, and even while still studying, he won important fashion industry prizes. They include Wedding Journal’s Young Designer of the Year 2012 and Belfast Fashion Week’s Diet Coke Designer Award for the year 2013. Gordon specialises in women’s evening and wedding wear and is making a successful career for himself. He is now a judge for the Wedding Journal's Young Designer competition.


Another former Newcastle Primary boy, Graham, left Shimna for Edinburgh Napier University and a BSc Hons in Architectural Technology and MSc in Construction Management. He works as an architectural technologist for a conservation and ecological architect’s practice in Edinburgh.


Neighbouring schools in Castlewellan sent us two future University of Ulster graduates who both now have jobs in Belfast. Leeanne, who came to us from Castlewellan Primary, and has an honours degree in Fine and Applied Art, works for an architectural practice in Belfast. Catriona Lennon, who went to St Malachy’s PS, Castlewellan, has a BSc Honours in Geography and works for Crawford’s, the largest loss adjusting company in the world. 


Michael from Annsborough Integrated Primary School has graduated with a  Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast, and was immediately appointed to an engineering post with Caterpillar in Craigavon. He now works for Hyster and has moved into product development.


Sister and brother Cary and Michael came to Shimna from Downpatrick Primary School. Both chalked up straight As before leaving our sixth form for university. Both love the outdoors. Cary graduated with a first class honours in Environmental Biology and Geography from St Andrew’s University in Scotland and for the last five years has been a sustainability consultant in the south of England for BREEAM Communities, an environmental assessment method for large scale developments. In September 2016, she moved to Leeds to begin a PGCE in geography and mathematics and is now a qualified geography teacher.  Sport was Michael’s main interest, and he has graduated from Loughborough University, the top sports university in the country.  After working in politics here in NI, he has now moved to Leeds.


Olivia, who also went to Downpatrick Primary, is a software testing consultant with Sage, after graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University, where she combined her interests in a BA Joint Honours in ICT and Childhood and Youth Studies.


Annie started her schooling at St Brigid’s Primary, Downpatrick, and is now  a primary school teacher, returned now from working in Turkey, her husband’s country, after graduating with a BA Hons in Education and mathematics with Qualified Teacher Status course at Liverpool Hope University. Like Olivia, she is also busy with her own young family.


Kathryn from Downpatrick, another former St Brigid’s girl, has a BA Hons in English Language and Literature from Leeds University and is a qualified social worker, working for Leeds City Council’s Children’s Social Work Service.


Riona went to the Convent of Mercy Primary School in Downpatrick. She followed her A levels at Shimna with a degree in Occupational Therapy in Jordanstown, and has worked in Edinburgh and in London as an occupational therapist.


Aisling, from St Joseph’s PS Carnacaville, won an Exhibition Scholarship to study Law at Trinity College Dublin, while her sister Tanya has graduated from University College London, following up her Oriel College Oxford BA in Modern Languages (French) with an MA in Medieval Studies, fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. She has now completed an internship with the international development agency CAFOD, and continues her international development work, this time with Save the Children.  Sinead gained excellent A levels while at the same time taking an Open University course in Understanding Human Nutrition, and also running her own cake baking and decorating business, all while still at Shimna.  She has now completed a traineeship at the Share Centre in Enniskillen and then at the NI Mountain Centre in Bryansford and plans to make her career in outdoor pursuits.  Youngest sister Ciara has just successfully graduated in politics from UCD.


Amy, also from Carnacaville, is using her Queen’s University BA Hons in Business and Management in managing her family’s long-established caravan park business.


Ben came to Shimna from Clough Primary School. He won a scholarship to the University College of St Scholastica, in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. He completed two BA degrees at the same time, in Spanish and Advertising/Public Relations, while also playing soccer for his university and regularly winning the defensive player of the year award.  He has now graduated and his best Shimna mates headed to Duluth at Easter to his wedding.  Ben had a successful career in the insurance industry in Duluth and Superior for a number of years, and now runs his own business.


Cheryl, also of Clough Primary School, did her MA (Hons) Applied Languages and Translation at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and her PGCE at Bath Spa University, and now works as a languages specialist in primary education.


Stephen, Aaron and Suzannah joined Shimna from Spa Primary School. After A levels, Stephen did a degree in architecture at the University of Lincoln. Aaron graduated in Information and Communication Technologies at the University of Ulster, including a placement year with an aerospace engineering company, Morson Projects in Belfast, who after graduation employed him as an Aerospace Design Engineer. Suzannah has graduated with a B.A. Hons. in Criminology at Queens' University Belfast.


After St Mary’s PS Glassdrumman, Luke went on to Shimna, and then graduated with a BA in Theology and English from QUB. He is now working for Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Department.


Annalong Primary School brought us Aimee, now graduated from the University of Ulster with a BSc in Psychology, and Zoe, who has made intensive use of the last few years to produce three children along with two first class honours degrees, the first in Nursing Sciences and the second in Midwifery Studies, winning the prize for top student in her year. She works in the Downe Hospital’s Midwifery-Led Unit.


St Joseph’s Primary School, Ballymartin sent us David, Rebecca, Kimberley and three sisters, Kerri, Shelagh and Clare. David graduated with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Queen's University and then won a highly sought-after post on Bombardier's Graduate Training Scheme in Belfast. Rebecca’s first Queens degree is BSc Biomedical Science, her second is PhD in Physiology, followed up with a Post-doctoral Scholarship at the University of Nevada in Reno, USA.  She worked for Randox for a time and has now taken up her dream post at Belfast City Hospital.  Her sister Kimberley has graduated with a BA in Geography at Queen’s, and graduated with her Master's degree in Leadership in Sustainabilty.  After travelling the world, she now manages a team of six at Alexander Mann Solutions.  Kerri studied Actuarial Science at Queen’s, including a placement in Chicago, had her pick of banking and finance posts when she graduated, and has chosen a post in Dublin. Shelagh did a BA in Law at the University of Ulster.  Youngest sister Clare has just graduated from  the University of Ulster studying English and Education, and is working on her Masters degree.


An up-and-coming actor whose name you should watch out for in the coming years is Shimna’s Corrin Thomas, who also went to St Joseph’s Primary School Ballymartin, and has now completed his BA Acting course at Trinity College Dublin’s Lir Academy, which operates in association with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Corrin has already had several professional acting roles.  He now works in theatre in New York.  Younger brother Ryan has also headed for a career in theatre, studying drama at Chester University, and now for his Masters degree in London.


Azaria, who went to Kilkeel Primary School before Shimna, achieved a BA with first class honours in Criminology and Sociology from Queen’s University Belfast and is currently working in the field of mental health. Karl, of Kilkeel Primary, went on to first class honours in his BA in English and Film Studies at the University of Stirling and a postgraduate degree in American Literature at Edinburgh University.


Mourne Grange Primary School gave us several more future graduates in different fields. Fiona graduated from Glasgow School of Art with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication(Graphic Design) and her brother Ollie, who lives in Cork as a working musician and saxophone teacher,  graduated with a  BA in Popular Music and Recording at the University of Salford. Then there is Grace, who has a first class honours in Adult Nursing Studies from Sheffield Hallam University, and is now a senior and enthusiastic member of staff in the Accident and Emergency Department at St James University Hospital in Leeds. She has taken a secondment to the major trauma centre for the north of England, in order to gain suitable experience for her next step up the career ladder. Mourne Grange’s James completed a BSc in Biomedical Science and then went on to a further degree in Dentistry at Aberdeen University.


V'cenza came to Shimna from Killowen Primary, and graduated with a first class honours MA in Geography from the University of Aberdeen, and has now completed her Master's thesis at the University of Galway.  She is a political activist and wild swimmer, now working in Cyprus.  Sister Piera graduated  from Falmouth University, Cornwall, with a BA in Illustration, and is now working as an artist, recently featuring in "Turf and Grain" magazine.


They attended the same universities as a previous Shimna student, Joeleen, whose MA in History of Art came from the University of Aberdeen, and whose MA in Curatorial Practice came from Falmouth. She then worked in a busy commercial gallery in Bristol, Cornwall, representing local and regional artists, with a remit focusing on Contemporary Impressionism; also on a freelance project with the Newlyn Society of Artists to develop and curate projects, talks and exhibitions; and at The Eden Project, as a Narrator on their seasonally curated educational programme.  She has just completed a prestigious post in Dublin, curating an exciting year of exhibitions across Ireland, and begun a permanent post in Dublin Business to Arts.


Chris began his education at Kilbroney Integrated Primary School, and he has now graduated with a BA (ITE) in Physical Education at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, London, and currently works in Shimna.  Kilbroney also sent us Parisa, who won a scholarship for her Bachelor of Music in Music Production and Engineering (Instrument – Voice) at Berklee College, Boston, USA, and now works creatively in Vancouver; and sisters Saoirse and Ciara. Saoirse completed a year of her BA in Sociology in Seattle, USA, before returning to Bristol University for her fourth and last year, and progressed then to postgraduate work with a Masters in Psychology. Ciara is in her first teaching post in a reception class, having completed her BA Honours Primary Education degree at St Mary's University in Twickenham, London.


We have also had successful students coming to us from: Dechomet Primary School, Ballyward, which sent Neil, now Program Procurement Manager at United Technologies after a BA in Business at Napier University, Edinburgh. Ballyroney Primary School sent four sisters, Laura, Nicola, Shelley, and Lisa, who among them studied for BA Business and Finance, BA Spanish, French and Psychology and BSc Adult Nursing, all at the University of Ulster, plus BA Health and Social Care and BA Law at the Open University. One is also a qualified hairdresser.  Cedar Integrated Primary, Crossgar sent us Adam, who has graduated in Business and Marketing from Ulster Universities, and Ronan, who graduated in Bioscience at the University of Suffolk. 


Annahilt Primary School brought us four energetic siblings: Matthew, now a cameraman and film editor, Clare, Daniel and Emily. Their university careers in Film Studies, Theology, Maths and Nursing, not to mention their various works and useful adventures at home and abroad, would make a whole new chapter. From even farther afield, Forge Integrated Primary School in Belfast gave us Stephen, who graduated in Law at Nottingham Trent University and worked in Epson’s legal department on intellectual property matters such as trademark, copyright and design law. He then moved to a new job where he has taken on further training to become a specialist trademark attorney.


A few updates: Paddy simultaneously graduated with first class honours in politics from Sheffield University and was also elected as an Alliance party member of our new super council for the Rowallane ward.  He fought an energetic campaign for election to the Stormont Assembly, tripling the Alliance vote in the constituency.  He has now begun his PhD. Maryam graduated in Advertising Design from University of Huddersfield; Nicole  achieved a Distinction Star in Equine Studies from CAFRE Enniskillen; Jeannine graduated with a first class honours degree in Civil Engineering with distinction in Maritime Engineering from Liverpool University;  Perrine graduated in Estate Management and Business; Laura Mae graduated in technology, and completed her PGCE;  Claire graduated in Business Studies, and is pursuing her career in human resources; Daniel graduated from Queens with a first class honours degree in mathematics and the prize from the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications; Fionnuala graduated from Edge Hill University in Childhood Studies.


We are always delighted to hear OldScholar news: Kirsty graduated in Film and Television from Edge Hill University last year and has now returned from working away at her photography in New Zealand; Conor has been completed his research post at Oxford University, and has begun his PhD at Dundee University; Robert is thrilled with his drama degree at Magee University College and already has an impressive list of performances; Alec, after a degree in Financial Mathematics from Galway University, several years in banking, has completed his PGCE and is teaching in Dublin; Johanna, after two years of study at Leeds University headed to Aarhus University in Denmark to complete her studies; Barry is delighted to begin his new post in web design with a Belfast firm, after working in Chester since his graduation in ICT; Wills McNeilly is completing his PhD in archeology at Queens University and has just been appointed Assistant Curator at Hillsborough Castle; Liam Baron flew solo with the Northern Universities RAF Squadron, and graduated in engineering from Durham University. He qualified this summer in New Zealand as a pilot with Easyjet. Brendan McDowell has found success in the Dragon's Den with his successful cosmetics company Perfect.  Sister Leanne is also involved, and the business is going from strength to strength.  This is just a flavour of the huge range of futures our Shimna OldScholars have in view.


We are proud of these Shimna OldScholars. There isn’t room to mention all the wonderful achievements of our young people over the twenty five years Shimna Integrated College has been open. Our aim is to educate them to be successful, and to be their own best possible selves.