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Oxford University welcomes top scholar

The Founders’ Scholarship not only supports me financially, but the great confidence that the ACG Selection Board has shown in my ability reassures me that overseas study is a good investment towards my future.
- ACG Parnell College alumus and 2019 Founders' Scholarship recipient, Sidhaarth Kumar

Attending one of the world’s top universities is a dream held by many, and one which has just been realised by former ACG Parnell College student, Sidhaarth Kumar.

“I became aware of the possibility of attending university in England at the end of Year 12,” says Sidhaarth. “My enjoyment for physics was never innate and I really had no idea what or where I wanted to study until about a year ago. The subject grew on me through a host of fun experiences at ACG Parnell College and during a time when I was confused about my future.”

Receiving unconditional offers from both the University of Oxford and the Imperial College of London, Sidhaarth was thrilled to hear of his acceptance to both schools, but especially to Balliol College – his number one choice among Oxford’s constituent colleges.

Sidhaarth has decided upon a four-year Master of Physics (MPhys) programme of study at Balliol College beginning in October 2020. Renowned for its academic excellence and exceptional results, Balliol offers undergraduates direct access to the knowledge and experience of top academic tutors in their field.

“Studying in an environment which has produced some of the most revolutionary physical insights was especially appealing,” Sidhaarth confirms.

Helping him to pursue his studies, Sidhaarth was the recipient of the 2019 ACG Founders’ Scholarship which recognises not only outstanding academic ability, but personal qualities for future success such as integrity, leadership, boldness of vision, drive, energy and work ethic.

While some applications can seem quite onerous, Sidhaarth found the Founders’ Scholarship process very straightforward, although he admits that writing the personal statement did require a little more thought. The interview with the ACG Selection Board was a surprisingly comfortable and relaxed experience for the talented teen who was able to candidly discuss his plans and aspirations.

The scholarship, valued at up to $75,000, is open to any ACG secondary school student in New Zealand who plans to commence a course of university study the following year.

“In my eyes, studying overseas was a great opportunity to become more independent. While attending Oxford was very attractive, the tuition fees and living costs made it a very difficult decision. The Founders’ Scholarship not only supports me financially, but the great confidence that the ACG Selection Board has shown in my ability reassures me that overseas study is a good investment towards my future.”

Deeply appreciative of the personal interest that his teachers have provided over the years, Sidhaarth feels ACG Parnell College has prepared him well for the challenges of Oxford.

“The options that they presented to me outside of the Cambridge International syllabus really helped me grow a passion towards learning. Specifically, my teachers encouraged me to take a Maths paper at the University of Auckland alongside my A levels. Experiences like these gave me a taste for the independence required in tertiary study and will make the transition to a life in a different country much easier.”

In addition to his academic activities, Sidhaarth has acquired many important life lessons during his time at ACG Parnell College, especially when managing tasks which can seem overwhelming at first.

“I think it’s very easy to become outcome focused when there is a goal in mind,” he says. “From my time at ACG, I think it is much easier to tackle seemingly insurmountable tasks step by step and just ‘do my best’ every time I approach a problem.”

Recognising the importance of balance, this hard-working scholar has also enjoyed the more social side of his ACG education and holds many such experiences among his own personal highlights.

“Going on school camp with my friends comes to mind. Jumping off waterfalls and sea kayaking are once in a lifetime experiences that I am very grateful for,” he says.

While keeping his future plans flexible, Sidhaarth is currently considering a career in theoretical physics research. And when asked what he is looking forward to most in his upcoming life as an Oxford undergraduate, he replies, “I think it would be the new experiences of campus life as a whole; with a mix of social activities, cricket and physics.”