Waiopehu College student Liam McLeavey is a finalist in Crimson Education's Student of the Year awards.

Crimson Education is an Australian organisation that helps Australian and New Zealand students get into prestigious British and American universities, and this is the first year the awards have been held.

Liam applied for the category of Student Leadership, but was then also picked to enter the Academic Excellence category. There are six categories for students in the awards and one for teachers.

"I spotted the application and decided to have a go," said Liam. "I had to submit a CV, and my academic achievement details for this. Then there was a nervous 30-minute telephone interview."

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Crimson interviewed Liam for the leadership awards and then decided to also enter him into the academic category. Now he's a finalist in both categories.

"During the interview they asked me what I wanted to do to help the future of New Zealand and what I thought leadership was," he said.

Liam already has an impressive track record in community work. He is co-founder and service manager of Pathways Horowhenua, chairman of Horowhenua Youth Council, and was student trustee of the board of Waiopehu College and a recipient of a district council civic award.

Liam said the Crimson Education Awards were a high-pressure environment to work in, but his nomination showed that a kid from the regions could compete with students from Auckland private schools.

Each category in the awards also has a People's Choice Award and this is a chance for Liam's family, friends and community to give him a boost. They can vote for him at community.crimsoneducation.org/peoples-choice-awards_nz/

There will also be a $20,000 award for one student chosen as the standout student out of all the finalists.

Liam is hoping to continue on with Pathways Horowhenua when he leaves Waiopehu College at the end of the year. For now his plan for the immediate future is to study social policy and management at Massey University.