Picture credit: Scoil Chríost Rí on Twitter. (@ScoilChriostRi1)
A graduate of Scoil Chríost Rí in Portlaoise has been awarded one of the top scholarships in Ireland.
Mountmellick girl, Ciara Burke, received the top Leaving Certificate results in the school this year and has been awarded one of 36 Naughton Foundation scholarships in the country.
The Scholarship worth €20,000 was presented to Ciara on Saturday, September 23 by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Trinity College Dublin.
"It was great, Leo Varadkar was presenting at the ceremony, he shook my hand," Ciara said.
The Naughton Scholarships promote the study of engineering, science and technology and are awarded to students who want to pursue these subjects at third level education in Ireland.
The scholarship particularly focuses on students applying to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related subjects.
Ciara's mother, Margaret Burke, is an art teacher and her father, John Burke, is an engineer. The 18-year-old has just started a five year degree with an integrated Masters degree in Engineering at University College Dublin.
Her parent's are proud of her achievements.
"We are very proud of her, she always worked hard all throughout school and we are thrilled for her.
Speaking to the Leinster Express on her break from lectures in UCD, Ciara explained how she became involved with the scholarship.
"I think our guidance counsellor might have put up a poster about it or I might have seen it online, I'm not sure. You have to write up a personal statement for your application in May and submit that, so it is about your extracurricular activities and why you should get the scholarship. In August you send them on your Leaving Cert results and they come back to you a couple of weeks later," Ciara explained.
"Scoil Chríost Rí was great, all the teachers are brilliant and really helpful and encouraged me to do well.
"I always had an interest in science and maths so I knew that was the kind of course I wanted to do. It is going alright so far, it is tricky enough but it is good. College is great, the social life is great," Ciara explained.
Ciara received the highest points out of all of the Leaving Certificate students in Scoil Chríost Rí this year.
"That was great it was totally unexpected now to be honest, I was very surprised but I was delighted," she said.
Principal of Scoil Chríost Rí, Helen O'Donnell, congratulated Ciara when the Leaving Cert results came out.
“Congratulations to our top performer Ciara Burke with over 600 points, exceptional student, excelled in her exams particularly in three science subjects where she achieved three H1s," Principal O'Donnell said.
The Naughton Foundation give preference to candidates who achieve the highest combined results in the Leaving Certificate in Applied Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Engineering, Agricultural Science, Technology and Design and Communication Graphics.
There is no cost in applying for the scholarship and the €20,000 prize fund is divided over the number of years of study.
"I think everyone should apply to it, I didn't think I was going to get it so you have nothing to lose by applying," Ciara said.
Ciara's excellent results have now helped her to achieve her place University College Dublin through one the top scholarships in the country.
Scoil Chríost Rí shared the news on Twitter, congratulating the past pupil.
The school has a fantastic reputation for successful applicants as graduate Joanne Parker was awarded the honour in 2013 and Rachel Costello was awarded the scholarship towards her studies in Computer Science and Language at Trinity College Dublin in 2014.