Nayland dux Merlyn Barrer. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Nayland dux sets sights high


Not even the sky is the limit for Nayland dux Merlyn Barrer who dreams to one day work for NASA.

The 17-year-old was awarded the college’s top academic award at the senior prizegiving earlier this month.

“It felt pretty cool, I have put in a lot of work during my time at school so it’s good to be recognised for that.”

Merlyn received ‘excellence’ endorsement, studying physics, outdoor education, marine science, chemistry and a university paper in math – all subjects he says he has great passion for.

“If you want to become dux you need to take subjects you enjoy, so you put in the work you need without it feeling like it’s something you don’t want to do.”

The chemistry whiz was also invited to attend a prestigious training camp for the New Zealand Olympiad.

Though he has yet to choose a career, Merlyn will move to Christchurch next year where he will begin studying engineering at Canterbury University.

“I am trying to keep my options open. I think engineer seems like a fun job.”

He says if he could walk into any job in the world, he would be a research astronomist for NASA.

“I enjoy making things and solving problems.”

Merlyn says he has always had an intellectual curiosity, particularly around the sciences.

“I’ve always been into reading science books and learning things.”

He says he was given great support during his time at Nayland.

“I had a lot of awesome teachers who were a huge help on my journey to become dux.”

Though sad to be leaving, he is ready to take on the challenges of post high school life.

“It feels kind of weird, but it’s also exciting to go onto the next stage.”