The Co Cork scientist and innovator heard her Leaving Certificate results over the phone from her mother Maureen a week ago as she was in Seattle for meetings to help develop solutions to world hunger. As most of the 58,000 students collected their grades at school, Ciara was nearing the end of a six-week trip to the US that included an innovation bootcamp at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
However, while waiting for confirmation on Monday of her place on University College Cork’s genetics degree, which was no difficulty with her 615 CAO points, Ciara found out at the weekend that she has been named one of the 2016 Junior Chamber International Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World Honorees.
She will receive the accolade in Canada in November, along with others from Australia, Brazil, Germany, Philippines, Syria, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.
It was on a New York subway on Friday night that Ciara found out about her global success.
“I got a message from the head of Junior Chamber International Ireland and I let out a scream, everybody was just looking at me funny,” she said.
At 18, she is the only teenager among those picked by judges after coming eighth in a global online vote.
She was one of three Irish people on a 20-long shortlist, alongside mental health advocate Niall Breslin and autism activist Adam Harris.
Last year’s Junior Chamber International 10 outstanding young people featured another young Cork woman, disability campaigner Joanne O’Riordan.
The honour adds to Ciara’s previous recognitions that include one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential teens in the world.
This followed her success with Kinsale Community School classmates Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey as Irish, European, and global young scientist champions in 2013 and 2014.
Ciara and Emer launched their own company Germinaid Innovations a year ago to develop their research on using a bacteria in soil to increase crop yields.
Ciara’s mother Maureen was looking forward to giving her a big hug after her latest overseas trip, and confided she would love to travel to Quebec for the Junior Chamber International ceremony.
It will be the latest in a series of engagements in recent years as a guest speaker at events around Europe and the US, which had left Ciara unsure just how well she might have done in her Leaving Certificate.
“I was delighted with my results, I got five A1s. I wasn’t really expecting it to go so well because I had such an unorthodox school year,” she said.