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Students win medal for extensive service, leadership and academic achievement

18 March 2021

Sir Edmund Hillary Medal

Two University of Waikato students have won the Sir Edmund Hillary Medal for their significant contribution to their community, while upholding a high level of academic achievement and accomplishment in sports and the arts.

The scholarship’s purpose is to recognise two Sir Edmund Hillary Scholars each year who go above and beyond the confines of what is expected of them at university. This year’s two recipients, Kaylee Bird and Nina Wollaston, are no exception.

“To me, the medal is the ultimate honour - showing that I have embodied the values of Sir Edmund Hillary and found my own passion for creating change.” says Kaylee.

Kaylee finished her conjoint degree in Law and Management at the end of 2020. After her first year of studying with the University of Waikato, Kaylee was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society (top 15% of students around the world).

While Kaylee was studying, she was also dancing at a national and international level. Kaylee competed at the World Championships of Performing Arts in Los Angeles (2017) and has performed in various shows including Precarious Places (2020), We Will Rock You (2019), Musology (2018) and many more.

Kaylee is an avid volunteer in her community. During her studies, she was the founding President of the Animal Law Association at the University, on the Executive Committee of the Unity Dance Club, Mentor for the Law school at the University and Activities Organiser at Selwyn Wilson Carlile retirement village, where she helped residents with various disabilities get involved in social games.

Kaylee aspires to use her conjoint degree to advise on mental health policies and charity law.

Like Kaylee, Nina is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. She completed her Bachelor of Management Studies degree majoring in Marketing with a minor in Strategic Management at the end of 2020.

As a part-time student, she spent her free time training in the Paralympics NZ Cycling Programme as a tandem pilot.

Nina has won third place in the Women’s Team Pursuit at the Junior World Track Championships (2014), third place in the 500m Time Trial at the Oceania Track Championships (2014), fifth in the Elite Women’s Team Pursuit at the Hong Kong World Cup (2016) and sixth in the Elite Women’s Team Pursuit at the Cali Colombia World Cup (2017).

“My perfectionism and drive to succeed have meant sacrificing some things and being overly stressed at times, so this medal has allowed me to look back and appreciate my success to this point and given me the confidence to keep moving forward.”

Nina has also spent time volunteering for The Waterboy - a charity created by University of Waikato graduate Thomas Nabbs, which aims to give Kiwi kids an opportunity to participate in sport, as a means of creating strong people and stronger communities.

To be eligible to receive the Sir Edmund Hillary Medal, students must be a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar and show achievement in sport/art performance, academic performance and community and leadership excellence. Read more about our scholarships here.


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