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Prestigious undergraduate prize awarded to medical student

Thursday 14 November 2019 3:16pm

The University's 2018 Prince of Wales Prize winner Ashleigh Shipton with her parents Edward and Elspeth Shipton.

The outstanding academic achievements of one medical student have been recognised by the University of Otago.

Ashleigh Shipton, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, is the recipient of the 2018 Prince of Wales Prize.

The distinction student received the University’s premier undergraduate award, valued at $500, in recognition of not only their academic ability, but extra-curricular interests as well.

The Prize, established in 1988 by the University of Otago Graduates’ Association to commemorate its golden jubilee year and to honour its patron, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, is given annually to the top student, or students, completing an undergraduate or honours degree across all divisions.

Four other Premier Prizes were awarded for Health Sciences (Ashleigh Shipton), Commerce (Scott Herbert), Sciences (Emma Barnes) and Humanities (Tom Rawcliffe).

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Richard Blaikie, who also convenes the Scholarships and Prizes Committee, says the prize is akin to dux but at a university level.

He says the competition to win the top prize was heated, with representatives from the academic divisions advocating for why their student should be awarded it.

“Outstanding is measured with your other attributes but mostly it’s in academics.”

Ashleigh Shipton

Last year Ashleigh completed her final year in the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programme.

“It’s very humbling and honouring to receive this award. It’s definitely a reflection on of the community who got me this award.”

While at Otago Ashleigh spent three years in Dunedin before moving to Christchurch to complete her studies.

She volunteered with the charity Days for Girls which helps produce and distribute reusable sanitary products in developing countries. She sold handmade earrings to fund the production of the pads.

She went abroad during her final year and worked on placement in South Africa and also worked with Dr Lance O’Sullivan in Kaitaia working in the rural Māori health field.

“It was a huge pride to be part of Otago University. Especially because it’s a university where science and women in science are appreciated.”

Ashleigh currently works at Christchurch Hospital and is aiming to pursue a career in paediatrics and public health after getting her Master’s and PhD.

She wants to be part of the work to reduce Māori inequality in healthcare, especially in regards to children.

“Because we know that if you influence early in children’s lives in the first 1000 days you can make a huge impact in their trajectories.”

Scott Herbert

Scott was awarded the Commerce Premier Prize for his undergraduate Bachelor of Commerce, where he majored in Finance and minored in Accounting.

This year Scott is completing his Master’s in Finance. At the end of the year he will return to Auckland and take up a position in the corporate finance team at Deloitte.

“It’s an honour to receive the Premier Prize for Commerce. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped support me throughout my time at Otago.”

Emma Barnes

Emma was awarded the Sciences Premier Prize for her undergraduate Bachelor of Sciences majoring in Chemistry. She is currently completing honours and will begin working as an analyst at Ernst & Young.

Emma is originally from Whangarei.

“It’s quite an honour to be awarded this, especially from the Division of Sciences because there are a lot of students.”

Tom Rawcliffe

Tom was awarded the Humanities Premier Prize for his undergraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honours in History. He was unable to attend the presentation.