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Student Phillip Chao is the latest nominee in the Herald's Unsung Heroes series, which will reward some of New Zealand's volunteers with a P&O cruise

He volunteers as a youth counsellor, mentors first-year university students, supervises autistic children and is the DJ for Starship's Radio Lollipop - and he is a full-time medical student.

Phillip Chao, 19, is the kind of kid you take home to mum, friend and co-worker Wendy Cuiffe says.

"He's one of those people who is really, really kind. He does so much - and he's so young. He's the sort of person you want your daughter to marry," Ms Cuiffe said.

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Mr Chao is in his third year at the University of Auckland, studying towards his six-year joint degree: bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery (MBChB).

Mr Chao has been a counsellor for Youthline for the past two years.

A volunteer for Amnesty International and a mentor within the Project K programme, Mr Chao is also known as the popular DJ for Starship hospital's Radio Lollipop.

Mr Chao, a former Auckland Grammar student, said a lot of people asked where he found the time to juggle study and volunteer work.

"The couple of hours I spend, say, a week at one place, I could've been online on Facebook or something," he said. "It just means I have to manage my time better. It's hard, but rewarding."

He has two part-time jobs, one as a call-handler for The Lowdown, an organisation helping youngsters deal with depression, and the other as a tutor for Maori and Pacific Island students in their first year of medicine.

Until recently, he was a teacher aid at a holiday programme for children with autism and a Red Cross collector - all the while keeping a grade A average.

Mr Chao said some of the rewards of helping youngsters, particularly children at Starship hospital, was doubly rewarding, as he was helping mould somebody's future.

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"Some of them are connected to drip feeds and things and you come along and they're happy," he said. "It's humbling."