Rhona Aran is the Nelson College for Girls dux for 2020. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Rhona reaches academic Everest


Rhona Aran understands better than most that education is a human right.

Her father grew up in deeply impoverished rural Nepal.

The youngest of eight children, he would have to walk up steep hills for up to two hours just to get to class.

At six-years-old, he had to drop out of school to help the family.

Her father’s upbringing instilled Rhona’s appreciation for education, a privilege she did not take for granted as she was recently named dux of Nelson College for Girls.

“Seeing how proud my dad was because he didn’t really get to go to school was amazing,” she says.

Rhona has returned to her father’s homeland every year since she was six, where her family runs an education charity.

She spends weeks at a time living in the country, getting to know the culture and the locals.

“It makes me appreciate the differences in education between here and there.”

Rhona hopes to one day work in a third world nation, improving the lives and knowledge of women.

Her passion for social science is evident in her grades.

Studying English, Art History, Classics, History, Geography and French, Rhona achieved excellences across the board in her internal exams.

“I worked harder this year, but the main difference has been I have been so interested in all my subjects.”

Rhona also made her mark outside of the classroom, as she was heavily involved in volunteering for the school’s enviro group and for Amnesty International.

She also enjoyed a two-month exchange in Switzerland which she ranks among her schooling highlights.

Rhona will attend Otago University in 2021 to study a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in history and global studies.

“Do what you are interested in and you will always work hard and be rewarded,” she says.