Scholarship to propel high-flying Flynn

  • 13 February 2022

See original article, via stuff.

Flynn Mercer
Flynn Mercer is one of the three recipients of Network Tasman Trust's 2021 Sir Wallace Rowling Scholarship.

Nelson College graduate Flynn Mercer is heading to the University of Canterbury this month, with the financial support of the Sir Wallace Rowling Scholarship, to study Fine Arts and pursue his love of rowing.

Mercer competed at the South Island Rowing Championships in Twizel last weekend, where his team came first in the Men’s Intermediate Coxed Quad Sculls.

Nelson College careers advisor Vikki Heays said Mercer had demonstrated excellence in academic, cultural and sporting activities at the school, which earned him the school’s nomination for the scholarship.

Network Tasman Charitable Trust established the scholarship in memory of Sir Wallace Rowling, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, who was also a Network Tasman Trust Chairman and Director of Tasman Energy.

Heays said she and her colleagues singled out Mercer, from a shortlist of five students, because he’d made a significant contribution to the school community, achieving excellence in both art and sport and, as a senior prefect, demonstrating leadership skills.

“Being a very well-rounded young man, Flynn really stood out because he met all of the requirements for the scholarship.

“He is an academically excellent student who has pursued sport – including rowing and taekwondo – at a high level and is passionate about pursuing a path less travelled to become a full-time artist.”

Heays added that he deserved the scholarship “because artists get a bit of a raw deal”.

Mercer, who is the only Nelson College graduate this year to enrol in Fine Arts, said: “I want to create powerful work that reflects, and shines light on, mental health issues, particularly in men.”

He has already enjoyed success as an artist, selling two paintings for a total of $1000. During his NCEA studies, he won several art awards and in 2020 came second in the Wallace Arts Trust Secondary School Art Awards.

“I wish to continue on my already upward trajectory. I feel I can make an impact through my artistic ability.”

Mercer said he will use the scholarship as a buffer while he pursues his two passions; building a career around art and becoming a professional artist, while also continuing to train in rowing.

“The scholarship will give me more freedom, from not having to work in a part-time job as regularly, which will allow me to focus more of my time and energy on my degree and my sports. Art and rowing are two very different disciplines. You can’t do a half job at either. It’s very time-consuming juggling both.”

Mercer said he applied to the University of Canterbury because it not only had a very good Fine Arts programme but also opportunities to train and compete in rowing.

“UC is also close to Nelson and there’s more affordable accommodation in Christchurch than in other cites.”

Each year, Network Tasman Charitable Trust allocate a $3,000 scholarship to at least two students, one from a rural school, and one to a student from an urban school, within the Network Tasman Trust distribution network. At the end of 2021, three students were awarded the scholarship to support their first year of tertiary study.

Coincidentally, all three 2021 scholarship recipients are heading to the University of Canterbury this year. Nelson Girls graduate Yeni Choi and Manu Bourgeois, from Golden Bay High School, will both study engineering.

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