Katelynn Rushe from Cookstown in County Tyrone studies the OCR Entry Level Diploma in Life and Living Skills at South West College’s Cookstown campus.

She has been a student at the college since 2020 and is enjoying the programme which focuses on personal growth and engagement with a learning environment for students with special educational needs. Katelynn learns things like how to properly budget her own money, how to process important forms ranging from job applications to passport applications.

My experience at the college has been great. I learn a lot here and all my classmates are lovely people. The staff here are all lovely as well.

Katelynn has a long-held passion for art and creativity which shines through not only her sketchbooks, but now features proudly in a mural at Gortalowry House in Cookstown. The artwork is dedicated to characters from Sonic The Hedgehog, the popular animated series seen across the silver screen, small screen and countless video games.

“Back in the day, I just loved to watch animated movies. Anything that was hand-drawn or 3D animated, I was just inspired by it. I took it upon myself to learn how to draw by videos, tracing and then practising how to do freehand drawing better and better.”

Katelynn came to this opportunity while displaying her own artworks at an a summer Arts and Crafts Fair at Gortalowry House in August of 2022 and the opportunity to do a mural for them on the wall outside the venue came about.

Her collection on sale at the Arts and Crafts Fair included framed original full colour drawings of Sonic characters and her depiction of both friends and celebrities as Sonic style characters. Her work also includes designs inspired by popular anime shows such as My Hero Academia in an impressive array of talent from the gifted Cookstown student.

Katelynn has aspirations of moving into the comic book industry:

“I’ve always imagined that some day, I could become a great comic book artist. I’ve seen a lot of people who do those types of books and it’s really inspired me to make my own which I’m working on now”.

Caitriona Cullen is one of Katelynn’s lecturers at the South West College’s Cookstown campus and is delighted at her progress:

“Katelynn’s an amazing student and an amazing person to have in our classroom. Her confidence has come on leaps and bounds and we are pleased to deliver practical skills for her life and work in a safe, fun supportive environment. Our students come from all backgrounds and Katelynn is one of many fantastic students we have the privilege of teaching. We are delighted at what a talented artist she has become and are behind her 100% in all the creative energy she brings to Cookstown and beyond.”

To find out more about Katelynn’s work, you can visit her page on www.redbubble.com and search ‘Katelynn Rushe’.

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