Top students urged to take chances

03:47, Dec 13 2012
nelson students
OUR BEST: From left, Jaimee Robinson, Quinn van Hilst, Wade Phillips, Holly Pittar, Aleisha Van Kerkhof, Harley Sydenham, Jeremy Ditzel, Jessie Renton, Edward Palmer, and Marley Richards.

Opportunity is a bird that never perches, so people should grab all the opportunities they come across, even the scary ones, says a Nelson research scientist and former top cyclist.

Dr Susie Wood spoke to the region's top all-round students for this year at the Nelson Mail and Network Tasman Top Student Awards yesterday.

Dr Wood, who represented New Zealand in a variety of events, including cycling at the Commonwealth Games, and now works at the Cawthron Institute, was the guest speaker for the afternoon.

She told the young men and women she remembered being in their position when she left Hutt High School, in Wellington, 20 years ago, which made her "feel a little bit old". But she was excited for them, entering what she said would be the 20 coolest years of their lives.

"I want to pass on three messages. Follow the things you're really passionate about, look for and make the most of opportunities, and learn from experiences."

Sharing stories of her own trials and successes, including a visit to Antarctica, losing a bike the day before her Commonwealth Games race, and finding a job she was truly passionate about, she encouraged them to continue succeeding. "Opportunity is a bird that never perches."


Dr Wood also told them another of her little mottos: "Learn backwards from experiences, but live forwards."

Jessie Renton, of Golden Bay High School, received one of the Sir Wallace Rowling Awards, which includes a $3000 scholarship for tertiary education. It is the second year in a row a Golden Bay High student has won.

Miss Renton said she loved playing sport and getting involved in everything.

"It's so cool [to win]. It's so good - there'll be less stress over summer saving money."

Next year she is going to Wellington to study at Victoria University for a double degree in arts and psychology and commerce and marketing. "I want to start up and own an events business."

The other winner was Wade Phillips, of Nelson College, who said he was surprised to hear he had won the scholarship after having the interview only the day before. He is also heading to Wellington next year, to study Maori at Victoria, and hopes to become a teacher.

"I went to the open day in September and their Maori department really interested me. I came back and talked to [the careers adviser] and we came up with that."

Mr Phillips said he thought it was good to teach more people about Maori culture. "Use it or lose it."

The other top students recognised for their work were Quinn van Hilst, Collingwood Area School; Aleisha Van Kerkhof, Garin College; Tegan Lamont, Motueka High School; Harley Sydenham, Murchison Area School; Marley Richards, Nayland College; Edward Palmer, Nelson College; Holly Pittar, Nelson College for Girls; Jacques Breedt, Rai Valley Area School; Jaimee Robinson, Tapawera Area School; and Jeremy Ditzel, Waimea College.

The Nelson Mail