Development & Alumni Relations Office 

INSPIRATIONAL LAW GRADUATE ON LIFE-CHANGING QUEEN'S SCHOLARSHIPSCharlotte Killen, Queen's 2020 Law graduate, on scholarships

09 September 2020

Charlotte Killen, a First Class Queen’s Law graduate from County Down (LLB 2020) who is about to start a Master’s in International Business Law (LLM) at the University, talks about the importance of scholarships and her role as an award-winning student volunteer.

Huge challenges have always been a part of Charlotte Killen’s life. When she was just 12-years-old, and her younger sister was 4 years of age, her father died unexpectedly, leaving her mum a widow. The death impacted hugely on day-to-day life for what was a very working-class family and it placed in doubt the prospects of going to university, for the then St Louis Grammar School, Kilkeel pupil.

Fast-forward to 2017, and just prior to commencing her undergraduate Law degree at Queen’s – following an intense application process and assessment day in Birmingham – Charlotte learned that she was one of 15 students awarded a Lloyds Bank Scholarship. It was to be the first of several such scholarships and opportunities that Charlotte would avail herself of, positively shaping her Queen’s experience and, in her own words, changing her life.

The Lloyds Scholars Programme is a unique, 3-year social mobility programme which offers high-achieving students from lower income households a financial support package and academic performance-based rewards, paid summer internships.

“I absolutely loved my 10-week internship within the Legal and Audit departments in Edinburgh and London,” Charlotte told Queen’s. “And a 1-1 business mentor during my undergraduate studies was hugely beneficial.

“My time at Queen’s has been both challenging and amazing,” she continued. “I am so grateful for the abundance of opportunities and programmes that have allowed me both to advance my legal career as well as to enhance my employability.”

MacQuitty Scholarship

The James MacQuitty Law Scholarship was founded in 2002 with funds provided by the MacQuitty Family Trust.  It was established in honour of James MacQuitty QC who was a distinguished member of the English and Northern Ireland Bars and was presented with the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by Queen’s in 1987. 

The Scholarship is designed to assist Law graduates from Northern Ireland to pursue a Master’s degree in the School of Law at the University in any law or law related subject area.

“The prestigious James MacQuitty Scholarship has undeniably been my proudest achievement in my journey to becoming a commercial solicitor,” said Charlotte, who is now an Ambassador for the Scholarship.

“Without the full tuition fee and living cost studentship that the Scholarship offers (£16,000), I would not be studying at Master’s level as, unfortunately, postgraduate students are not eligible for maintenance funding in Northern Ireland.”


No stranger to volunteering – Charlotte was a disability services volunteer and an English language mentor at school – the requirement of the Lloyds Scholarship Programme to complete 100 hours' skills-based volunteering each academic year, didn’t phase her. During her time at Queen’s, she volunteered as Sponsorship Director of the UNICEF Committee, was a Project Choice AHSS ambassador, an AMICUS foster care ambassador and an International Buddy Scheme mentor, as well as being a Concern Debates adjudicator and a Homework Clubs tutor.

“The volunteering condition of the Lloyds Scholarship encouraged me to get involved in a wide range of activities. And I am proud to say that my contribution to various volunteering positions resulted in me being awarded the Millennium Volunteers 200 hours Award and the Pope John Paul Gold award (the only student in my cohort to achieve ‘Gold’ accreditation).

“All of this enabled me to become a graduate of the Inspiring Leaders Programme, run by Queen’s Students’ Union.”

Languages and travel

Throughout her time at Queen’s, Charlotte has enjoyed learning new languages, in particular Chinese.

“My passion for languages, stemmed from my involvement in Language Centre Mandarin, Irish and Swedish classes, further developed when I was offered the chance to study Mandarin and Business for one summer at the leading Chinese university, Zhejiang, with the Study China Programme.

“Participation in this once in a lifetime experience would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the travel scholarships that Queen’s offers. To be honest, I think that very few students actually know that such travel bursaries are available to them!”

Charlotte successfully applied for a £1,000 Dr Thomas J Moran Travel Scholarship, set up in 2018 by the Irish American Partnership to honour Dr Tom Moran, the University’s late Chancellor, to assist with travel abroad relating to study or work experience. In addition, she also won an AHSS Travel Scholarship from the University’s Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, both of which helped fund her trip to China.   

“I believe that the cultural awareness I gained during my time in China hugely supported my successful application to Fordham University New York for their competitive International Law summer school, where selection was based upon the four highest degree averages,” Charlotte continued.

“Without the fully funded scholarship that Queen’s provided I would not have been able to join the programme.”

Change lives

Now a part-time Paralegal with the Newry firm of Joanne McCartan Solicitors, not surprisingly, Charlotte’s advice for fellow students is to apply for every scholarship or bursary they are eligible for!

“My one goal throughout my role as an Ambassador for the James MacQuitty Scholarship is to spread information about the range of scholarships that are available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

“A scholarship can, without a doubt, change lives – it definitely has for me!”

Find out more about available funding at Queen’s University Belfast by visiting our Scholarships and Funding website.

To support scholarships and awards at the University go to the Queen’s Foundation Scholarships web page or contact Aoife McNabb, Development Manager.

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.  

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