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Robertson Scholars Off To Duke University

27 March 2012

Robertson Scholars Off To Duke University

Three exceptional students with a strong desire to create a better world have won valuable scholarships to prestigious Duke University in the United States.

Their scholarships, each worth $100,000 a year, are funded by New York philanthropist Julian Robertson.

The winners are Jamie Band from Dunedin who will be studying biology, Tom Prebble from Auckland who plans to take a bachelor of science majoring in economics, and Sarah Wright from Rangiora whose degree will be in genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry.

Since moving from London in 2007, Jamie Band has topped all his subjects every year at John McGlashan College, and was Dux and Head Academic Prefect last year. He went on to score a near maximum score in the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and a score of 2340 in the SATs.

The elected student representative on the school’s board of trustees, he instigated a peer tutoring programme and spent many hours tutoring younger students in a wide range of subjects. Jamie has been involved in rugby, cricket and cross-country, and is an accomplished public speaker.

With his passion for the life sciences and medicine Jamie believes a degree from such an esteemed university as Duke will enable him to “make the greatest difference that I am capable of doing. I aspire to work both in countries like New Zealand as well as those less fortunate, spreading my time between the two so as to improve the well-being of others.”

Tom Prebble gained numerous academic distinctions at King's College including his full academic colours and membership of the Scholars' Common Room. In his Scholarship examinations he achieved Scholarships in English and Statistics and Modelling while in the Cambridge International Examinations he attained four A-Level A* grades and an A in Further Mathematics, and was Top in the World for A-Level Thinking Skills.

Tom was Deputy Head Prefect and School Captain of Orienteering. He has also represented his school at athletics, cricket, hockey, rugby, rowing, tennis and water polo. He was awarded his full cultural colours, playing a prominent part in drama (Glee Club), debating and the school concert band.

Studying economics at Duke will be “a life-changing experience”, says Tom. “I want to be exposed to mind-boggling ideas that disturb my world view and make me question my thoughts and values.” His ambition is to “influence global events in a positive way on an international stage as either a leader in a field or for my country. Studying at Duke will only allow me to do this better.”

Sarah Wright was Dux of St Andrew’s College in 2011, receiving school prizes in seven subjects. In the Scholarship exams she came top in New Zealand in Biology and gained a Premier Award with outstanding Scholarships in Physics, Calculus and Statistics and Modelling, and Scholarship in Geography and Chemistry. In NCEA she gained 155 excellence credits out of a possible 155 at Level 3.

Last year Sarah was Academic Captain, a College Prefect, and organised the school’s reading assistance and peer tutoring programmes. She captained the school shooting team and has represented New Zealand in smallbore target shooting in junior through to open levels. In hockey she was in the school second eleven for five years. Sarah was involved in cultural and community activities including post-earthquake relief as a member of the Student Volunteer Army and helping distribute food and supplies to families in need.

She relishes being taught by academics at the forefront of their fields at a selective university such as Duke and being party to ground-breaking research. “As well as being stimulating it will help me develop to my full potential.” Sarah aims to do research that will benefit society in such areas as biomedicine, genetics or biotechnology. “I want to be involved in work that is both rewarding and challenging, and has the potential to make a difference to the world.”

Up to three Robertson Scholarships, covering free tuition and board and a living allowance for up to four years, are offered annually in New Zealand, two in Australia, one in Sweden and 24 in the United States. Selection is based on academic ability, leadership potential, commitment to community service, courage, collaborative spirit and a strongly ethical outlook.

Julian Robertson, who has long spent part of each year in New Zealand, and his late wife Jose established the Robertson Programme in 2000 with a $US24 million gift. Mr Robertson founded the Tiger Management hedge fund, and their generosity has benefited other causes in this country including the Auckland Art Gallery.

The Robertson Scholars Programme is administered by Universities New Zealand — Te Pōkai Tara. The deadline for applications is 1 December. More information on the scholarship can be found at

Duke University is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina founded in 1838. It has nearly 18,000 students on an 8600-acre campus. Its research expenditure is among the ten highest of any United States university. Duke was ranked 19th worldwide in the 2011 QS World University Rankings.


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