The 20-year-old was twice before approached with offers from model scouts, once in Berlin where her sister Sophie does some part-time modelling and also at a music festival in Ireland.
But she decided to throw her hat in the ring when members of UCC’s Fashion Society asked if she would be interested in enlisting for their contest last October.
Fast-forward four months and the second-year student of international development and food policy has been crowned UCC’s Next Top Model.
“I was scouted twice before, but I always just wanted to focus on going to college. Then there was a stand outside the library and I just said, ‘Okay, I’ll have a go’,” said Aishling.
“I was very laid back about the competition because I didn’t think I had a chance, all the other contestants were so good.”
So when she was picked by the judges at the finale in the Triskel Arts Centre, she was overwhelmed.
“It was just a huge surprise, a complete shock,” she said.
The prize includes a year’s contract with local model agency Lockdown and free hairstyling for a year with Origin Hair Design. But Aishling is intent on remaining focused on her studies at the same time, rather than aiming for a full-time career in fashion just yet.
“I’d want to finish college before thinking about doing anything too serious. But chances like this don’t come along too often, so I’m not going to waste it,” she said.
The judges included Miss Cork 2011 Brianna Dougher and they were so impressed with David Adeleke’s performance that they created a special runners-up prize, which consisted of a year’s contract with Lockdown.
Although the nine girls in the finale outnumbered five male finalists, fashion society auditor Adrienne Brosnan said there was a much higher level of interest from men than last year.
“In the early stages of the competition, we had a stand outside the library and there were way more fellas entering.
“We did approach some guys ourselves but a lot of them came forward, I’m not sure why they were more keen than other years,” she said.
Aishling was cheered on by friends and family who made the journey from Ballyhide, Co Carlow, to last Thursday’s event.
They were among around 250 UCC students who entered in the initial stages and they were whittled down to the last 14 based on photos, and later, based on interviews with representatives of the Lockdown model agency.