Shem Harris is a young man from Horowhenua about to continue his striving for success at one of the world’s most prestigious universities.
The former Horowhenua College pupil and Horowhenua District Council Youth Voice member will study at Cambridge University in England after being awarded the Sir Douglas Myers Scholarship 2014.
The scholarship, valued at $100,000 over three years, will see Shem, 18, head to the university’s Caius College, where he plans to do an engineering degree specialising in environmental engineering. He plans to follow this up with a postgraduate law degree.
Shem says environmental engineering aims to address the ramifications of human activities such as pollution, large-scale construction, and global warning. He says studying law will enable him to work towards changing legislation and policy “to be part of the solution to prevent these impacts”.
Shem says he is proud to call Levin home and is grateful to all the school teachers, sports coaches and music teachers who have helped him over the years. “I owe them huge thanks and really this scholarship is not just an achievement by me, but recognition of all of their efforts too.”
Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy says Shem should be extremely proud and he deserves district-wide congratulation. “On top of Shem’s previous achievements in sport, community service and academics, he has built himself a strong platform for the rest of his studies, personal life and ongoing career. I have no doubt that he will continue to build on this as well. “It is absolutely fantastic to see locals performing at the highest of standards on a national and international level, and goes to show that Horowhenua is a great place to grow up.”
Shem’s career plan is to work for a private engineering firm in New Zealand, as well as gaining work experience in developing countries in areas such as water supply and sustainable development.
In his last year at Horowhenua College in 2013, Shem was a prefect and was named the Dux Scholar, having also been the top scholar in his year group for four years running. He was awarded five NCEA scholarships in physics, chemistry, English, statistics and geography. He is an accomplished footballer, playing at national youth level, while also playing lawn bowls, basketball, squash and table tennis at interschool levels. He also coached his school’s under-15 football team and refereed at interschool tournaments.
During his year on Horowhenua District Council’s Youth Voice in 2012 Shem belonged to various committees and also volunteered at community events such as the Project K, Horowhenua’s Got Talent and Celebrating Youth Nua projects. In addition, Shem is a talented musician who has been a member of the Levin Junior Brass Band and played the tenor horn and cornet for the Levin Centennial Band, as well as being a guitar player.
Shem is currently studying for a conjoint Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Auckland, pending his start at Cambridge in October. He believes that Cambridge will help to open doors to fulfill his goal of contributing to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Shem says the opportunity will also allow him to gain inspiration, grow academically and broaden his worldview. Sir Douglas Myers, a Cambridge alumnus, set up the scholarship 14 years ago for academically gifted students intending to return to New Zealand to become leaders in their chosen fields. It covers tuition fees and a living allowance.
Past Myers scholars are now working at a senior level in fields such as manufacturing, management consulting and project management, while others have progressed to doctoral study. In New Zealand the scholarship programme is administered by Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara.