In May of 2015, Ciarán graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Classics, History, and Plan II Honors. His senior thesis–which explored the connection between Lincoln’s turbulent young adulthood and his understanding of the Civil War’s religious significance–received the George H. Mitchell Award for Academic Excellence, a $3,000 prize distributed by the University Cooperative Society. He graduated Summa Cum Laude, maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.00, and achieved special honors in Plan II. He was designated a Dean’s Distinguished Graduate, one of 12 in the College of Liberal Arts out of a class of approximately 2,500. As a Jefferson Fellow and a 19th-century American historian under the tutelage of Professors Elizabeth Varon and Gary Gallagher, Ciarán will explore questions pertaining to the Border South during the secession crisis. He will also study the political and intellectual development of the United States during the 19th century. For his master’s thesis, Ciaran will examine the personal and political correspondence of John Janney, the president of Virginia’s secession convention from February-April of 1861 in an attempt to answer the question of how staunch Unionists became Confederates during the secession winter. Ciaran also reviews books for the Michigan War Studies Review and the American Journal of Theology and Philosophy. In September of 2015, he gave a talk at the Jefferson Foundation’s Forum for Interdisciplinary Dialogue on rural discrimination in modern China.