By PHILIP CHANDLER
Anyone who aspires to be a neurosurgeon’s probably pretty brainy — and in the case of Wakatipu High school leaver Om Alva, you’d certainly be right.
The 18-year-old, who started his final exams last week, has been named his year’s dux — the school’s highest academic honour.
Amazingly, he’s also been head boy this year, and played a big part in school sport.
Principal Steve Hall says he’s been ‘‘absolutely amazing in terms of what he’s achieved academically, but also as an all-round student, which is what we want’’.
Om, who this year studied calculus, statistics, chemistry, physics, biology, health and English, says he was ‘‘pretty speechless‘‘ when he was named dux and honoured with a haka by fellow students.
‘‘I like to challenge myself and just strive to do the best I can do, so when I got it I felt like I’d achieved one of my highest goals so far.’’
As to how he’s fitted everything in, he says it’s been about managing his time.
From a young age, he’d learnt the saying, ‘you’ll always be able to make time for the stuff that you love’, ‘‘and for me it’s obviously my academics and my sport’’.
He admits being head boy during lockdown early this year was challenging.
‘‘It’s obviously difficult to be a leader just from your house, but we tried to make use of social media and other online ventures just to stay in contact with the rest of the school.’’
Though a lifelong Kiwi, he says his Indian heritage also plays a part.
Perhaps as a result, his highlight as head boy was being involved in the school’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
On the sporting front, he’s been in the rugby 1st XV and loved basketball, but cricket’s been his main passion.
A highlight was being in the 1st XI that recently beat Otago Boys’ for the first time — they then lost to the same school last week, but Om top-scored with 60.
In 2018, he spent five months in a cricket academy in Mumbai, India.
He was invited after being a net bowler when the Indian under-19 team was training in town for the U19 Cricket World Cup.
Om had been promoted to Year 10 five weeks after starting school, but went back to Year 12 last year after his time in India.
‘‘I’d definitely love to make cricket a career,’’ he says.
One of the Otago Daily Times’ Class Act recipients in 2017, Om says he’d also like to be a neurosurgeon, and will start on that path by studying health
sciences at Otago University next year.
If he becomes one, ‘‘I’d go to Africa or some Third World countries and just try to positively impact on the people’’.
In terms of his journey so far, he pays tribute to the support he’s had from his parents and from teachers, staff and fellow students and prefects at Wakatipu High.
‘‘There’s definitely nothing negative to say about Wakatipu.’’