Being named dux student is recognition of years of hard work, says Stratford High School's Matthew Sullivan-Brown.
Matthew (18) says though he did very well throughout the year he was not 100 per cent sure of placing first, so was excited to be called forward to receive the 2012 dux medal at Stratford High's senior prizegiving last Tuesday.
''It was always a goal of mine, I had hoped it would be,'' he says, adding he always just wanted to do his best.
Next year he is going to the University of Auckland to study engineering. He says he will use the intermediate first year to decide which direction in engineering to specialise in.
''I have always been good at mathematics and science.
''I like problem solving, logical steps.''
He placed first in his year in chemistry, geography, calculus, and in statistics and modelling, and second in physics.
Among the trophies hauled away from the stage for his mathematical prowess was the Taranaki Mathematics Association award.
Matthew is also the recipient of a University of Auckland Scholarship that would cover his course fees for three years and includes $5000 plus two return air tickets home per year.
Altogether 1220 students applied and Matthew says he considers himself very fortunate.
The scholarship is for showing high academic ability and overall sporting, cultural and leadership qualities.
Matthew, having taught himself to play the guitar and piano, placed second at the earlier Lions Music Awards and also played hockey for the Taranaki under 18 and Taranaki men's teams.
On the current final exam, he says he has studied "heaps and heaps" and considers himself ready. "Should be all right."
His study tip is to use past NCEA exam papers to prepare. Perseverance he says is one of his strong traits.
"I want to do my best in everything. Staying committed is important."