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Howard University Alumna selected as Inaugural UCD Smurfit Scholarship Awardee

  • Date: Fri, Dec 15, 2023

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By Beth Kocher Gormley, Communications & PR Manager, UCD College of Business

Annylah Clarke, a UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School Masters in MSc Food Business Strategy student, was recently awarded the inaugural Howard University and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School Scholarship. 

“Receiving this scholarship means everything to me,” said Clarke. “To be recognized for my work ethic and merit and given the chance to study outside of the country is a chance that many people are not given. I don't take it lightly and I feel delighted to know that people are supporting me and want to see me succeed.”

The scholarship is the result of the first-of-its-kind initiative which saw 12 Howard University School of Business students visit Dublin, Ireland and 19 students from UCD Smurfit School and UCD Quinn School, visit Washington DC, USA to focus on doing business in international markets, sustainable development goals, diversity and inclusion and cross-cultural learning. 

Howard University is one of the most prestigious universities in the US and one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) in the country. 

The initiative was endorsed by Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris, a Howard University alumna, as she commented on the innovative collaboration during An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s visit to the Vice President’s Residence as part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations earlier this year. Full remarks can be viewed here. The initiative was generously sponsored by KPMG, Bank of America and the African American Irish Diaspora Network (AAIDN). 

Appreciating diversity of thought

A native of Hillside, New Jersey, Clarke was interested in attending UCD Smurfit School to gain a new perspective of learning within an international culture that she wouldn’t have been exposed to while studying in the US.

As one of Europe’s leading business schools, UCD Smurfit School provides a vibrant nexus of connectivity, flow, and interaction drawing on Ireland’s location as a gateway to Europe, culminating in relevant research and programmes of study. Dublin’s place as a global hub of business and activity attracts the world’s leading multinational companies, including finance, tech, med tech, pharmaceuticals, and social media, to base their European headquarters in Ireland. Learn more here

“I hope to achieve a deeper knowledge of the food business economy from a European standpoint,” said Clarke. “I also wanted to study in Dublin because the city is so beautiful and rich. It has a deep history and a mix of so many different European cultures.” 

Clarke also values and appreciates the diversity of thought in her student cohort. “I wanted to learn and study in rooms where everyone comes from a different perspective and opinion on topics based on the countries they come from. I have made friends with people from all over the world including from Germany, Ireland, India and Spain, and truly appreciate their perspective.”

Clarke is an alumna of Howard University’s prestigious School of Business where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management in 2023. She used this knowledge to start her own business, Sweet Ambrosia Co., which features personalised luxury cakes. “The passion for my business and to see it grow and succeed is what led me to take up studying food business at UCD Smurfit School,” Clarke explained.

She commented that her courses so far have taken a different approach to what she experienced during her undergraduate experience. “Studying in Dublin is very discussion focused. In our classes, we are engaging in huge group discussions about topics around food and sustainability as well as how it’s affecting land, businesses, and consumers.” 

Exploring new places

Outside of the classroom, Clarke has embraced life in Ireland, enjoying time with her new friends exploring the city, chatting in pubs and taking advantage of the close proximity of Ireland’s natural landscape by hiking or beach walks. Connected to her passion, she also enjoys trying new food spots with friends.

“My advice to someone considering doing a Masters Degree in UCD would be to take the opportunity,” concluded Clarke. “It's a great way to step out of your comfort zone and see more of the world, especially when you're in the country, can learn from everyone around you and really be exposed to a different way of life.”

Learn more and support students

If you are a student or know someone who is interested in learning more about the Howard University and UCD Smurfit School Scholarships, please contact Elaine Aherne, Director of Admissions, UCD Smurfit School at Two scholarships are available for Howard University students and alumni, and will cover 50% of the tuition fees for one Full-time MBA programme, and 50% of the tuition fees for a choice of one MSc programme. The scholarship is open to Howard University students and alumni. Learn more here

If you are interested in supporting the Howard University and UCD Smurfit School scholarships for future students, please contact Dennis Brownlee, Founder and President of AAIDN at, or Elaine Aherne, Director of Admissions, UCD Smurfit School at

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