Award-winning student gives back

Lily Holder-McFlinn (Rongowhakaata) came to Victoria University of Wellington this year with a $5000 Victoria Academic Excellence Scholarship, a $15,000 Spark scholarship for women in technology and one of only five Te Ara a Kupe Beaton scholarships awarded in the country.

Lily Holder-McFlinn sits at a table in the hub with a pen in hand.

Now she is now giving back as a member of the panel and a mentor for this year’s Te Ara a Kupe Beaton scholarship applicants. The scholarships are run by Crimson Education and are aimed at getting Māori students onto the world stage through admission to top-ranked universities in New Zealand and abroad.

The initial plan was to study abroad on the scholarship but Lily quickly realised that she wasn’t ready to move overseas and go to an Ivy League school. She decided to stay in New Zealand and attend Victoria University of Wellington and then everything started to fall into place. She is now following her passion and studying a conjoint degree of Law and Computer Science.

It was love at first sight when she saw computer code displayed on a screen for the first time, at the age of 15.

“My teacher displayed a bunch of random code (a computer programming language that instructs computers and computer devices to perform actions) on a screen and something clicked for me, I’ve never felt that way before,” says Lily.

Lily is enjoying studying and she loves what she’s doing. As a Māori student, Lily feels the University is a great place to be due to the support in place for fellow Māori and Pacific students.

“If I want support, it’s very easy to find,” she says.

It’s been a challenging but rewarding first year of university for Lily. She’s not afraid of a bit of hard work though. Last year she tackled a huge workload of five NZQA scholarship subjects – she was awarded four of them.

So what’s next for Lily? Her focus is on completing her degree but after that maybe something in the social entrepreneur space, or studying overseas.