Mandy Lowther’s love of the outdoors sparked a desire to understand it.
The young science prodigy has always been fascinated with the natural world and her passion for learning has seen her claim the top academic prize at Nayland College.
When Mandy arrived home after being named dux, she was excited to show off the prize to her family.
However, with the house empty except for a man laying new carpet, she celebrated with the stranger.
“No one was home, just the carpet dude, so I was like to this random guy, ‘look at my certificate’.”
She says while others would shy away from them, Mandy embraced the challenge of studying the sciences.
“I love those moments where it explains things you thought you already knew.”
For her internal NCEA results, Mandy achieved two excellence grades in both chemistry and biology, excellence and merit in physics and an A+ on her university math paper.
Despite her impressive marks, she wasn’t expecting the school’s top academic accolade.
“Some of my friends thought I was going to get it, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.”
Mandy’s win did not come without effort.
“I study quite a bit, but I enjoy getting good results, the work is worth it in the end.”
After spending year nine through 11 at Cashmere High School in Christchurch, Mandy moved to Nayland to finish her college years.
“I feel like I’m ready to finish school, but I hope I can stay in contact with my friends and teachers.”
The 18-year-old will head to Otago University in 2021 to study biochemistry.
Mandy says she knows saving the planet is not a one-person job but hopes whatever she ends up doing makes a difference.
“I want to do something challenging and science-based that gets me in the outdoors, new stuff that hasn’t been done before. I don’t want to be closeminded to opportunities.”