Hamiltonians score top university scholarship
2 March 2016
Former Sacred Heart Girls' College student Erena Calder Hawkins is one of nine Hamilton locals to be awarded a top scholarship from the University of Waikato.
Erena, along with students Christopher Steeghs, Jonathan Mayer, Calum Hughes, Zan Sun, Eugene Koning, Taylor Hamlin, Anya Noble and Blair Pennell, were awarded a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship – an all-fees paying scholarship that supports students in a chosen discipline, and provides mentoring, personal development and leadership opportunities while they study.
The scholarships are awarded on the basis of leadership, academic excellence, and achievement in a sport or creative and performing art.
Erena received the scholarship on the basis of her achievements in badminton. Having played the sport since she was eight-years-old, Erena has competed in a number of national and international competitions, including the World Junior Championship in Peru last year.
She says the physical demands of her sport are challenging with lots of speed and endurance required for the long rallies. However the biggest challenge is “dealing with the restrictions and stereotypes of playing a minority sport".
“Many people don’t understand the intensity and commitments of playing high performance badminton, and there’s limited resources available to play the sport at an international level,” she says.
Erena has started a Bachelor of Science at Waikato and says the scholarship will help her balance her sport and study commitments as well as help reduce some the barriers of playing a minority sport.
“Badminton doesn’t receive much sponsorship or funding, so not having to worry about university fees takes a lot of the pressure off covering the costs of my badminton endeavours,” Erena says.
Former Hamilton Boys' High School student Christopher Steeghs also received the scholarship for his achievement in badminton. Former St Paul’s Collegiate student Jonathan Mayer received his for music (organ), while Calum Hughes (Hillcrest High School) received his for theatre, and Zan Sun (Hillcrest High School) received hers for dance.
Eugene Koning (St John’s College) received the scholarship for rugby, Taylor Hamlin (St John’s College) for basketball, Anya Noble (Waikato Diocesan School for Girls) for equestrian (dressage), and Blair Pennell (Hamilton Boys' High School) for athletics.