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Future leaders awarded prestigious Robertson Scholarship

21 March 2017 | media

Two exceptional young women with a passion to make a difference have been awarded the prestigious Robertson Scholarship to study in the USA.

Antonia Young, aged eighteen from Parnell (Auckland), and Serena Lim-Strutt, aged 17, from Hamilton, will take up their scholarship to study at Duke University, a private research university in Durham, North Carolina.

The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program was established by American philanthropist Julian Robertson, and funds generally 36 young leaders each year internationally, including two from 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.  In addition, scholars participate in summer internships, research, or international community projects.

Antonia Young served as Head Girl at St Cuthbert's College last year.  She will study a Liberal Arts Degree with double majors in Public Policy and Political Sciences at the Sanford School of Public Policy.

She says, “I want to use my university experience to look for ways in which I can make a difference to people's lives, and I hope to have a career that mixes business with social good.

“Ultimately my goal is to use my skills in a political or policy-based setting. I hope my skills will one day allow me to be able to help achieve broader social out-comes like furthering equality and addressing poverty.

“I am determined to reach a position of effective leadership that enables me to break boundaries that have been put on women in the workforce, and help pave the way for future generations of women.”

Antonia achieved academic excellence and provided outstanding leadership while at St Cuthbert’s, and is credited with making a lasting contribution to its culture.  Last year, she won the Sherilyn White Scholarship for her ability to be a role model, and balance high achievement in sport alongside service and involvement in a wide range of college activities.

She is also a talented debater, actor and public speaker.  Within her community, she has tutored and mentored young students at a local primary school to help them achieve academically.

In addition, Antonia is a talented water polo player, and is a member of the National Women’s Open Water Polo team.  She was the only schoolgirl selected for the New Zealand Women’s Water polo team which competed in the Olympic qualifying tournament held in the Netherlands. Following the FINA World Youth Women's Water Polo Championships in Auckland last year, she was described as the one of the world’s best goalies for her age.

Serena Lim-Strutt attended St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton, where she was a School Prefect, Chapel Prefect and Head of the Mission and Outreach portfolio.  Last year she was named Proxime Accessit, as the second most outstanding academic student, achieving excellence in a wide variety of subjects from maths to commerce, science and literature.

At Duke, she plans to study economics to prepare for a future in business and social entrepreneurship.

“As a high school student, I started up a stationery business, which donates notebooks to poorer schoolchildren in Tanzania. I am involved with an IT start-up in NZ, building a website for students to find tutors. My role involves tailoring part of the website to low-income students in Africa. Soon I will join another start-up, devoted to producing low-cost housing.

“My plan is to link all of these activities to eventually achieve significant outcomes for the poor, with the potential to truly transform their lives. The affordable houses will be fitted with solar panels in poor, remote areas that lack electricity. The solar panels will be able to charge smartphones - this will allow users to access our (and others’) tutoring website. Based on my success in motivating volunteers elsewhere, my plan is to mobilise volunteers from richer countries to donate their time to tutor children in remote regions that lack adequate schooling.”

At St Paul’s, she led the “Over the Fence Ministry“, a programme where students were active in local low decile schools in a variety of areas including: helping young students to read and play, in sporting activities, providing meals, supporting staff, and helping to set up groups for dance, drama and Kapa Haka.  For her work, she was recognised with a New Zealand Youth of the Year Award for Giving Back.

John Taylor, Chair of the Robertson Scholarship Selection Committee says, “The Committee is looking for academically capable students with strong leadership potential, a genuine commitment to community service, who are courageous, collaborative and highly ethical.  We are therefore delighted to offer the scholarship to both Antonia and Serena this year.  We will follow their development with great interest.”

In New Zealand, applications are administered by Universities New Zealand. The deadline for 2018 applications is 1 December 2017. Read more information about the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program.