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Top students to begin studies at world’s best universities

MEDIA RELEASE 6 September 2012

Five top students to begin studies at the world’s best universities

With the support of scholarships administered by Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara, five of New Zealand’s top students from high schools throughout the country are soon to begin studying for undergraduate degrees at two of the world’s top universities.

Sam Bird and Zoë Higgins, both from Canterbury, will begin their studies at Cambridge University in England. Sam, a former Christ’s College and current Victoria University of Wellington student, is this year’s recipient of the Peter Windle Scholarship and Zoë, a former dux at St Margaret’s College and current University of Auckland student, has won the Sir Douglas Myers Scholarship. Kate Poskitt, formerly a student at Rotorua’s Western Heights High School and now at Victoria University of Wellington, will also begin studies at Cambridge as New Zealand’s 48th Girdlers’ scholar.

Winners of the 2012 Robertson Scholarships are Jamie Band, former dux of Dunedin’s John McGlashan College and current University of Melbourne student, and, Tom Prebble from Auckland, a former King’s College and current University of Otago student. Both will be heading to Duke University in North Carolina.

Poised to embark on these life-changing adventures, the five share an understandable mixture of excitement and nerves. It takes great courage to move to a new country, let alone begin studying at two of the most academically challenging universities in the world (Cambridge was ranked 1st and Duke 19th in the most recent QS World University Rankings).

“Most notably I am quite nervous about the standard of academic work required at Cambridge,” says Sam Bird. “I’m very anxious to do my absolute best.” Kate Poskitt is also excited about meeting “people who will challenge and extend my thinking.”

Tom Prebble, never having visited the United States, feels like he’s “plunging into the unknown.” He adds, “I will be going from a patriotic Kiwi kid who feels right at home in New Zealand and with its way of life to a guy that talks strangely from a country whose existence is yet to be confirmed. I feel some pressure to ‘bring it’ to the locals and be an ambassador for New Zealand.”

Jamie Band is also sure the United States “will be filled with new and somewhat strange experiences” but hopes to make “friendships and connections that will last well beyond my years at Duke.”

For all five, the same challenges that make them most nervous are also what has them most excited about their journeys. A common theme is the anticipation of proving themselves amongst the best students, and learning from the top academics, in the world.

They won’t be starting their studies totally unprepared for what they will face. Both Cambridge and Duke have extensive orientation programmes for international students and the five will also be taking part in the universities’ orientations for first year students before classes begin. In addition, the Robertson Scholars will also be taking part in a “leadership retreat” before their orientation programmes.

The Myers, Windle, Robertson and Girdlers’ Scholarships provide for all tuition as well as living costs for the entire tenure of the recipients’ undergraduate study programmes, making them some of the highest value scholarships offered in New Zealand.

Students interested in applying for these scholarships should check out the Universities NZ website – The closing date for the next round of Robertson Myers and Girdlers’ Scholarships is 1 December 2012. The Windle Scholarship will next be offered for 2016.


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