'Everyone is in a similar situation, so it makes it easy to make friends'
Ayman Yousif, Trinity College Dublin
Although medicine was his initial preference, Ayman Yousif is happily settling into the Pharmacy degree programme at Trinity College Dublin.
He scored an impressive 566 CAO points, but "I didn't get the result I wanted in HPAT; Pharmacy was my second choice, so I decided to go with it".
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The 18-year-old from Barntown, Co Wexford, a former pupil of Good Counsel College, New Ross, is the only one from his class who started in Trinity this year - and has earned special recognition for himself and his school.
He was recently named as an Entrance Exhibitioner, an honour awarded by Trinity to high achieving new entrants.
This year saw a change in the selection criteria for the awards, leading to greater geographic and demographic diversity in the student cohort joining the prestigious ranks.
For a full list of 2019 CAO courses, click here
Previously, awards were made to any first year who received 560 or more CAO points - excluding maths bonus points. A small number of schools dominated - there could be up to 20 students from one school, while other high achievers narrowly missed out.
Now, they honour the highest achieving new entrant from each school, subject to a minimum of 500 points, including bonus points - or its equivalent for students from other jurisdictions.
Some 438 students from 379 schools were recognised, up from 245 schools in 2017.
In the event of a tie between students from the same school, more than one award is made.
Ayman is loving Trinity, although he says it took some time to get used to the independent learning required: "It's not like school where the teachers show you what to do; you have to find out and I have adjusted to that."
He has also adjusted to more independent living... at the Trinity Halls student residence in Dartry, where, he says, "everyone is in a similar situation and it makes it easy to make friends."