Gifted student reveals secret of her success
4:00AM Tuesday Mar 17, 2009 . By Jacqueline Smith, NZ Herald
Former Diocesan School student Emily Adlam is the only student to top three scholarship subjects since New Zealand introduced the exams four years ago - and the only one to gain six outstanding scholar awards for all the subjects she sat last year.
Emily topped the country in physics, statistics and Latin and gained scholarships in these subjects, as well as in calculus, English and chemistry.
Emily is no stranger to success. At 18, she is an accomplished musician, scientist, debater, poet and writer who says she is writing her fifth novel in her spare time.
Her achievements include a rare Royal Society of New Zealand Gold CREST award for a renewable-energy research project she completed last year and being the top-scoring New Zealander at last year's Chemistry Olympiad in Budapest.
Last year she got A pluses for two papers she studied through Auckland University.
But Emily said her scholarship results still took her by surprise.
"I did not come out of the exams thinking I had done really well and I didn't feel any different about how I did in the subjects I ended up coming first in," she said.
This year Emily started studying for two degrees - Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in physics and philosophy.
"Physics and philosophy complement each other because they are different ways of approaching the same questions about how the world works," she said.
Her longer term plans include gaining a PhD then working in scientific research.
"I'm very interested in energy research and also in quantum theories of the mind. I would love to be part of the collaborations between physicists and neuroscientists that are happening around the world," she said.
Emily does not watch television and is a fast reader. But she says the real secret to fitting a lot of activities into her life is by believing each task is a break from another so it becomes a form of recreation.
Emily is one of 10 students nationwide this year to win the NCEA premier award, which is worth $30,000 to be paid over three years, and one of 47 students to win one or more outstanding scholar awards.
She will receive her premier awards and three top-of-subject scholarship awards at a ceremony in Wellington on May 14.