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At sea ... Miriam Clark, left, and Kenya Ashcroft aboard HMNZS Canterbury off Macauley Island, part of the Kermadec island group, during the Young Blake Expedition. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By ROBYN BRISTOW

Hawarden’s Miriam Clark steeled herself waiting for a decision on whether she had been awarded a John Waller Memorial Scholarship.

The 18-year-old former Hurunui College head girl had even given herself a pep talk, deciding it was fine either way and that it was an honour to get through to the interview stage.

Last week, she learned she was one of three winners from 270 applicants, to be awarded the scholarship for study at the University of Canterbury next year.

“I still really can’t believe it,” says Miriam, who will receive more than $18,000 over three years, as well as a summer internships at the BNZ bank and consultancy firm PwC, as well as mentoring from their staff.

“It will help so much with my costs and opens up so many opportunities as well, such as job offers at the end, which is amazing,” she says.

Miriam plans to study commerce, majoring in business management, and also learn about sustainability and entrepreneurship.

She was head girl at Hurunui College in Hawarden in 2017, but took a gap year in 2018.

“I had worked really hard for the last three years at school and decided to have a break from study and do lots of adventuring,” Miriam says.

She represented Canterbury as one of 18 young leaders who joined a Young Blake Expedition in the Kermadec Islands, conducting climate and marine research last March. Since she was 10-years-old she has been involved in the Nina Valley Restoration Group, a community group aiming to return the valley to pre-European status, and she founded Projekt Pukeko, a restoration project in a local swamp.

In July last year she received the Mayoral Award for Outstanding Youth Leadership in recognition of her leadership work that has made her an inspirational role model for youth in the district. She was also recognised for being a hard-working and diligent student, a dedicated sportswoman and a passionate environmentalist.

She has taken part in many youth conservation projects and events in a bid to restore, influence and find best-practice to deal with issues in the future.

Miriam is the co-author of Moko’s Book: Celebrating Biodiversity in the Hurunui District