Penicuik pupil Gemma is flying the flag for the US

Penicuik High student Gemma Spencer (16)
Penicuik High student Gemma Spencer (16)

A Penicuik High student is among an exclusive group of youngsters to be taking part in a special summer school in America.

Gemma Spencer (16) flies out to the United States on August 5 as one of the Scottish participants on the US-UK Fulbright Commission’s Sutton Trust Programme.

Fifteen students from Scotland have been selected as part of a 150-strong contingent from the UK to take part in this life-changing opportunity.

The aim of the programme is to encourage academically talented students to consider studying at American universities on leaving school.

Gemma, who will be moving into S6 at Penicuik High after the summer, applied to be part of the programme back in January. There were 3,700 initial applicants.

Following a video interview, the applicants were whittled down to 1,600. Gemma attended a residential event in London in April to secure one of the final 150 places.

“My family is pretty proud of me. America has always interested me. It has been a dream of mine,” said Gemma. “But I have never been to America before. I have always liked American culture and love travelling.”

As part of the programme Gemma, who recently sat Highers in mathematics, English, French, Spanish and music, will take part in a summer school at Yale University, with a day hosted at Harvard University.

The students will live on campus and visit a number of other universities in the area.

The first Penicuik High pupil to be accepted on the programme, Gemma is keen to learn more about studying at Occidental, the liberal arts college in Los Angeles.

Commission executive director Penny Egan said: “We are delighted to welcome such gifted Scottish students onto our programme. This scheme complements the Scottish Government’s priority on widening access.

“It provides a life-changing experience to these young people, giving them a taste of US campus life and culture and the possibility of their American dream becoming a reality.”