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While triathlons, coding and calculus would make some run for the hills, they are a few of Holly Bissett’s favourite things.
The St Hilda’s Collegiate academic prefect says she has always been scholarly, finding learning interesting.
"I like knowing how things work."
She discovered a passion for coding in year 10 after taking a digital technology module.
"I decided to stick with it ... I really like the problem-solving aspect of it — it’s really satisfying when you finally get something right."
She is taking a University of Canterbury maths paper and maintaining an A+ average at present.
In January, she was accepted into and attended a Hands-On at Otago course in toxicology and pharmacology.
"I also really like the sciences."
Last year she was accepted into the Junior Academy at the New York Academy of Sciences, an online science programme where participants work with others from all over the world on different challenges.
"You’re trying to solve real-world problems ... like how to get cheap health care to people."
She took NCEA level 3 calculus last year, one year earlier than most, receiving an excellence endorsement. Last year all her subjects were endorsed with excellence.
"I like to get on to things really early, and have things done well before they need to be done.
"I’ve always gone that extra step to get things done the best I can."
In the long term, Holly hopes to get into medicine and help people through her work.
Achievements: Academic prefect (2020); Hands-On at Otago (2020); Math199, University of Canterbury (2020); academic blue (2018-19); Australian National Computer Science School (2019); code club member (2019); NCEA level 3 calculus with excellence (2019); NCEA level 2 chemistry, physics, English, digital technology and Spanish endorsed with excellence (2019); Australian Maths Competition senior division distinction (2019); NCSS python challenge intermediate stream perfect score (2019); accepted into Junior Academy at the New York Academy of Sciences (2019); ICAS Science Distinction (2019); Grok Web.comp advanced perfect score (2019); Chile exchange for Spanish (2019); A1C Spanish high distinction in reading and listening (2019); NCEA level 1 and 2 endorsed with excellence (2018-19); St Hilda’s Collegiate Old Girls Association Prize for highest achievement in year 11 (2018); NCEA Make your Mark competition (2018); top 100 score in University of Otago Junior Maths Competition (2018); credit in Australian Maths Competition intermediate division (2018); ICAS science distinction (2018); NCSS python challenge beginners’ stream perfect score (2018).
Role model: My parents for being supportive and selfless.
Hopes for the future: Complete first-year health sciences at the University of Otago, then medicine.
Sarah Langsbury is used to overcoming obstacles.
The St Hilda’s Collegiate prefect is a high-achieving hurdler, runner and long jumper, and was named in the New Zealand athletics team for the 2019 Pacific Games.
"I started athletics at the age of 9 and have stuck with it ever since."
She specialised in 100m hurdles, which was her favourite sport.
"It’s quite a challenging thing; it’s not just a sprint."
The 17-year-old enjoyed the social aspect of athletics, and was recently accepted into the Otago Academy of Sport’s talent development programme.
"I really enjoy the programme. It’s not just about being fast or being the best."
She hoped to continue with athletics.
"Ideally I would like to go to the Commonwealth Games."
She used the quote; "hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard", to motivate herself to succeed.
Sarah was named as the Maori and Pasifika prefect for her school this year.
Her Maori heritage was a key part of her identity, often on the Otakou marae growing up.
"I think it’s important to keep history and your ancestors as a part of your life and pass it on, so heritage isn’t lost."
She was a member of the kapa haka group, and said she had learnt the qualities of respect, leadership and understanding through the activity.
In the New Zealand Secondary Schools Athletic Championships at the end of the year, she hoped to succeed in the 100m hurdles, 300m hurdles and long jump.
Next year, she planned to attend the University of Otago, study medicine or psychology and keep up with athletics.
Achievements: School prefect (2020); board of trustees student representative (2019-20); Kaea of Kapa Haka (2020); Otago Academy of Sport (2020); NZ Athletics Representative Pacific Games Samoa (2019); Tiffany Cone Cup All Round achievement year 12 (2019); Enid Freeman Cup all round achievement year 11 (2018); school excellence award in a single sport (2019); NCEA levels 1 and 2 with excellence (2018-19); Senior and Junior Mana Pounamu recipient (2018-19); academic blues (2018-19); Service Blues Kapa Haka (2019); Cultural excellence, Big Sing bronze (2018); double sports blues and blues for athletics (2017-19); Sports Blues for Touch Rugby (2018-19); NZSS Senior Athletics Championships silver 100m hurdles (2019), NZSS Junior Athletic Championships gold hurdles 80m, Junior 300m hurdles silver medal (2018); NZ National Combined Events Championships U18 2nd (2020); Otago touch rugby representative (2016-19); Maori women's rugby South Island and Otago representative (2019); NZCAA Nick Willis Scholarship (2018); Colleen Gale Cup senior long jump champion (2019); Hanlon Challenge Cup senior high jump champion (2019); senior 200m champion (2019); Sports Challenge Cup overall senior champion (2019); senior peer mentor (2019); 1st XV Rugby (2019-2020), Senior A touch rugby (2017–20), University of Otago Hands-On at Otago science scholarship (2017); Te Pokai Ao, San Francisco (2016).
Role model: Sally Pearson, world and olympic champion, Australian hurdler
Hopes for the future: Take first-year health science at the University of Otago