After being presented with a record-breaking collection of silverware at the 2019 ACG Sunderland prizegiving, the announcement of the school’s Dux Award to Findlay House Leader, Aqeel Munif, was a forgone conclusion. This top scholar then compounded his phenomenal academic success with a tally of outstanding results in his Cambridge exams.
Aqeel received three A* grades (90% and above) in A Level Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, and an A grade (80% and above) in AS Level Computer Science.
“Seeing these results left a huge impact on me,” says Aqeel. “To me it meant that I had spent the last five years in a way that I can be proud of. I could look back to the person I was in Year 9 and truly take in just how far I’ve come.”
Completing his Cambridge exams with 420 points for university entry, the maximum possible number, Aqeel is soon to begin a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree at the University of Auckland.
“Mathematics and the Sciences have always appealed to me, making this somewhat of an obvious choice,” he explains. “The thing that ultimately pushed me to pursue Engineering was the appreciation I grew to have for problem solving and logic.”
Grateful for the way in which ACG Sunderland has assisted to open his eyes to the wider world, Aqeel has come to understand the importance of taking time to celebrate current success, while still looking towards future achievements.
“ACG Sunderland has helped me come to realise what true self-improvement is like. While it has never been a concept that was foreign to me, the skills I have developed in realising what it’s going to take to do better the next time cannot go unrecognised. Paired with that is a good sense of appreciating what you’ve done right as well. I feel that achieving the balance between these two is what will help me with my further study.”
This pragmatic approach is exemplified in Aqeel’s reference to the most valuable information he received during his time at Sunderland.
“As much as I laughed every time it came up, the most important lesson I’ll take from ACG came from our Upper College Dean, Mr Keen: ‘If nothing changes, nothing changes.’ Being static and close-minded happens when you yourself are not willing to make the first step towards change. If you want to see an improvement, something has to change.”
From a personal perspective, the social side of the College also made a significant impact upon the big-hearted alumnus.
“Every time that I’ve been able to make someone else smile or laugh has always been a highlight for me. I’ve always thought that there’s no better feeling than the satisfaction that comes from making someone happy. Every last inside joke and shenanigan I’ve shared with both friends and teachers really make for a positive look-back on my time at school.”
And it is for these reasons that Aqeel was personally recognised by Principal, Nathan Villars, when he was awarded the 2019 Villars Cup for Outstanding Service to the College.
As to what the future holds, Aqeel prefers to keep things flexible for the moment and has yet to determine a specific career path. Instead he intends to investigate a variety of fields, building a solid foundation until he finds the perfect fit.
“However, for my next few years at university, I am looking forward to getting to know more people I can stress out with as well as looking further into the subjects I’ve come to love over my time in school.”