Fizzi wins scholarship

Fizzi Whale with her Paraguayan Harp. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

Papamoa harpist Felicity Whale has been awarded the prestigious Sir Douglas Myers scholarship to study at Cambridge University in England.

Known as Fizzi, the 18-year-old was Dux at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton in 2016 and has been studying biomedical science this year at the University of Auckland. She will transfer to Cambridge in September to study natural sciences.

When Fizzi was eight years old, she went to Paraguay on holiday where she discovered the Paraguayan harp.

Returning to Papamoa, she began harp lessons with Tauranga harpist Margaret Harper. At age 12, she revisited Paraguay for six months and returned with a harp carved with nautical images and her name.

Fizzi has decided to spend her remaining time until September working, and can be found busking at Mount Maunganui or working as a cabinet chef at Sidetrack Café.

John Taylor, convenor of the scholarship selection committee, describes Fizzi as an outstanding all-rounder. “We are delighted to offer this scholarship to Fizzi. She is accomplished across the humanities, sciences and mathematical sciences. In addition, she is also a very talented musician and sportsperson, who also finds time to contribute to her community.”

While in Year 12, Fizzi passed scholarship studies in earth and space science, physical education, Spanish, and English, and in Year 13 she repeated earth and space science and Spanish, and also passed in statistics, classical studies and biology.

She was placed 10th in the world in Spanish in the Language Perfect World Championships in 2017, and gained an elite award in 2015 and 2016.

She is an accomplished debater, captaining the St Paul’s Collegiate team last year, and also played drums in the Smokefreerockquest with the St Paul’s Collegiate band.

Fizzi and her sister Tessa were the winners of the Open Section Mount Maunganui Busking Competition in 2013. Fizzi also represented Waikato at the national secondary schools cross-country running championships. Fizzi helped with charity fundraising for the St. Paul’s Collegiate 12 Hour Relay.

As a Waikato Hospital volunteer she has assisted patients to attend Sunday chapel services, and regularly visited the neurosurgery ward where she played Paraguayan harp for patients.

She has also been involved in charity relays, and in 2015, was awarded an Altrusa Award for community service work in the Hamilton region.

Fizzi aspires to be an academic in the area of evolutionary science, instilling in others a greater understanding of evolutionary biology. She wants to be a change-maker.

“The teachers of today enliven the generations of tomorrow,” says Fizzi, “and being a professor of evolutionary biology would enable me to educate students about this expanding field of science. In this way, I would aim to rectify underlying misconceptions and thus scientifically enlighten others.”

Fizzi’s scholarship, which was set up by Sir Douglas Myers 17 years ago, provides an opportunity for students who have already distinguished themselves academically to attend one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

The expressed hope of Sir Douglas Myers is that graduates will return to New Zealand to become leaders in their chosen fields, to the direct benefit of New Zealand and its people.

Sir Douglas Myers, who passed away earlier this year, was a significant supporter of education, business, sport and the arts, and believed strongly in providing international experiences for outstanding young New Zealanders.

The three year scholarship provides tuition, college fees and a living allowance. It is estimated to be worth more than $210,000 over the three years, with only one three-year scholarship awarded per year.