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Future leader awarded prestigious Robertson Scholarship

26 February 2021 | media

An exceptional young woman who plans to pursue a career in global public service to become a leader who leads through compassion has been awarded the prestigious Robertson Scholarship to study in the US.

Millie Caughey, aged 18 from Auckland, will take up her scholarship to study at Duke University, a leading private university in Durham, North Carolina.

“From the first time I asked my parents whether or not the chicken I was eating for dinner came from a real live chicken, I've been fascinated by the way people make ethical decisions,” says Millie. “Through a study of both philosophy and international comparative studies, I hope to develop an understanding of the way politics shapes the way people view themselves and their place in broader society.

“At Duke, I believe the Kenan Institute for Ethics provides a place for me not just to understand, but to be part of new research in this field...Not only would it allow me to grow my understanding of the intersection of culture and ethics, but further understand its implications on human wellbeing and politics. This connects with work I'd like to do in global policy.”

The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program was established by American philanthropist Julian Robertson, and funds young leaders each year from around the world, including New Zealand. The Program is valued at about NZ$100k per year for up to four years, and covers the scholar’s study, living and travel costs. Scholars also participate in summer internships, research or international community projects.

Millie attended Auckland’s St Cuthbert’s College where she was Deputy Head girl in 2020, receiving an impressive number of College and external awards for a wide range of activities and subjects. These included subject prizes for geography and economics; selection for the New Zealand team for the World Debating Competition; Auckland Schools Debating – Top Speaker; and St Cuthbert’s Significant Scholar’s Awards for having five or more subjects endorsed with excellence in 2018 and 2019. She also gained Triple Cultural Honours for Debating, Music and Writing in 2019 and 2020, and high Distinction in the University of Auckland Economics Competition.

Over the past year, Millie focused her public service efforts on her school’s response to COVID-19, including writing the news section of the student newsletter during the first lockdown and helping manage the page’s social media—all while providing support within her own family. She has also been involved in her local youth council since 2019, working with local elected leaders, regional youth leadership and communities in her area.

Activities with the council included a virtual music competition for performers denied opportunities in lockdown, a pursuit that fitted well with her own strong interest in jazz drumming and percussion. Millie has participated in groups that have won gold and silver awards at regional and national competitions, including the National Youth Jazz Competition and KBB Music Festival.

John Taylor, Chair of the Robertson Scholarship Selection Committee says, “Millie came across as a very talented, articulate and creative scholar, with a delightfully quirky sense of humour. Her strong leadership and communication skills will enable her to give a lot to, and gain a lot from, the Robertson Scholarship Leadership programme.”

In New Zealand, applications for the Robertson Scholarship are administered by Universities New Zealand. More information on the scholarship can be found at