A St Mary's CBS student has been awarded the prestigious €20,000 Naughton Scholarship, for his top Leaving Cert grades in science and maths.
Evan Bracken, from Grenville in Portlaoise, is now studying engineering at UCD, and was stunned to receive the award.
He found out when the Naughton family rang to tell him recently.
“I wasn't really expecting to get the scholarship and certainly didn't expect to get a call like that,” said Evan, who got 615 points in his exams.
The scholarship is awarded by the Naughton Foundation to one person per county, who aims to study science, technology, engineering or maths at third level, if they get top exam results.
Evan applied last spring after learning about the scholarship from his applied maths and physics teacher Cyril Mulligan.
“I immediately applied because it seemed like a great opportunity,” he said.
Evan also won for his school a €1,000 grant for science equipment, and is delighted for the help it offers with college costs for his parents Fergus and Fiona.
“It means a lot because I'm able to give something back to my parents after all they gave me and for them it reduces the financial pressure of college. It's nice for the school too that they've more money for the science dept,” he said.
He picked engineering because he hopes he can ”do something practical and worthwhile to better the world around me”.
“It involves a lot of physics and applied maths which were my favourite subjects in school,” he said.
He is settling into college.
“It's going really well, all my lectures are very interesting and all the people here are very friendly and there's a lot of cultural diversity too. It's a really exciting new environment and I'm looking forward to spending the next few years here,” he said.
The money means he can focus more on his education.
“It helps my CV a lot. Some great extra things come with this scholarship such as the opportunity to do an online Harvard business course. Hopefully it will also help when I'm looking for internships and work in the future,” Evan said, recommending applying to others.
“It comes with many benefits aside from the €20k that would be incredibly beneficial to any student heading to university. The Naughtons really do look after their scholars well,” he said.
“I'd like to thank my parents, my friends and all the teachers I've had over the years,” Evan added.
Mr Mulligan said the school is thrilled for Evan.
“He is an exceptional student, very dedicated to his work, and pushes the boundaries,” he said.