Fionnghuala O’Reilly

Fionnghuala O’Reilly is Miss Universe Ireland 2019. She is the first woman of color to be crowned Miss Universe Ireland. O’Reilly is half black-American and half Irish. Her nickname is “Fig.”  Fig is twenty six years old and is the Director of the NASA Space Apps Challenge and a NASA Datanaut. Her position helps her create innovative new thinking, processes, and products. Her platform is #EmpowermentThroughCoding which helps females learn to code. O’Reilly obtained her Engineering degree from George Washington University.

Fig was crowned Miss Universe Ireland on August 1, 2019. Not everyone was happy to see her win the title. She was criticized by some who stated her looks don’t represent “Irish beauty.”  O’Reilly has stated “These are things that girls like me feel on a daily basis. I get asked, where are you from? I’ve had people stick their hands in my hair.” Fionnghuala went on to say “A lot of girls were lovely but some girls came out and said I wasn’t Irish and wasn’t deserving of the title because there was no way I could represent Irish beauty. It was hard to hear, but it showed it was important for my story to be shared.”

Like many, O’Reilly has to change a lot of her daily activities due to the outbreak of Covid-19.  She is now working from home. The pandemic cancelled many of her scheduled events, but she is using social media platforms to continue to inspire many people. “I’m working on creating programmes for social media, for YouTube and IGTV, so I can interact with young people around really cool science and tech projects they can do at home to keep interest going in school activities.” She has openly discussed her stress dealing with many changes in her life. She encourages people to create a work environment that is relaxing and fulfilling. We can remain productive in the pandemic by applying Fig’s other tips: take breaks, exercise, eat healthy, use boundaries, organization, and have a buddy you can safely talk to.

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teen President Emeritus

Picture Credit: Wonder Women Tech