A TALENTED student is swapping North Yorkshire for New Jersey after being awarded a £250,000 scholarship to study at one of America’s most prestigious universities.

Ripon Grammar School pupil Mena Scatchard, one of the fastest young middle-distance runners in the UK, won a funded place at Princeton University.

The US Ivy League institution, which this year offered just under four per cent of all 37,600 applicants a place, will pay Mena’s fees and accommodation for four years.

In addition, all her flights, food, sports kit and coaching are being funded by the elite university and the 18-year-old will even be granted a personal spending allowance.

She said: “I am really excited. It was quite a moment to get the official acceptance through.

"I am ready to spread my wings and looking forward to training and studying in America.

Famous former students of Princeton include mathematician Alan Turing, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Michelle Obama.

Mena, who has been crowned Yorkshire Champion three years running and has been talent spotted by England and British Athletics as a future sporting star, applied after hearing about the exceptional sports facilities, training and competitions at US universities.

She was particularly attracted to Princeton because of its strong academic reputation: “It’s the best opportunity I could have at this time of life to develop my running and I’m confident I can make a lot of progress," she said.

"Academically I am excited about the courses and there are also some fairly impressive internships and international opportunities.”

As well as impressing the highly academic university with her sporting record, Mena, who was selected to run for the England youth team last year, had to sit a demanding four-and-a-half-hour exam to win her coveted place on Princeton’s liberal arts degree course.

In addition, she had to study for aptitude tests required by the American educational system - at the same time as preparing for her A-level exams in chemistry, biology and geography.

Mena, who achieved a clean sweep of top grades in her GCSEs, juggles a demanding training schedule with Leeds City Athletic Club, where she is coached by Kieron Hall, with her A-level studies.

She runs five days a week, in addition to doing strength and conditioning and cross-training work.

She said: “I am just very diligent at when I get home from running, I shower, eat and just get down to my homework.”

RGS headmaster Jonathan Webb said: “Mena has been absolutely dedicated to her cross country and athletics throughout her time at RGS.

"Anybody who has seen her running the streets of Ripon and surrounding areas understand the immense focus and determination she has given to this goal.

"She is a very hard-working student and this is a wonderful and well-deserved achievement for her.”

Mena’s mum Brenda, a former PE teacher, said the whole family was very proud of her: "Mena has done very well for herself and we are delighted for her.

"We’re looking forward to visiting her and to watching some Ivy League competitions."