Malcolm is youngest of the four Gibson siblings to attend St Peter’s College. Now training to be a vet at Massey University.
In his own words…..
Coming from a small country school it was a big change coming to St Peters. It wasn’t too scary as Hamish and Rebecca were still there and some of my friends from Riversdale were going to St Peters too. I thought it was so big and having to move class every 45 minutes, just about made my head spin (at Riversdale we stayed in one class the whole day).
I enjoyed my first few years a lot (maybe more than the teachers appreciated at times). Of the teachers, I will always remember Mr Sutton. He first taught me 5th form maths, then chemistry in 6th and 7th form. I got into a lot of trouble at school. He took no nonsense from me, which I respected (rare for me at the time). He saw past my behaviour and challenged me academically. He only expected the best of me and wouldn’t let me get away with just passing. His straight up and down, no bullshit approach, really pulled me into line and made me work at school.
I spent a lot of the school holidays working. My parents always made us kids work, to teach us those vital basic skills and install discipline from a young age. I remember in the 4th form I was being really naughty at school and my dad sent me to work at a timber mill in the holidays. From that point on I knew I had to get an education, because I could not handle being stuck in a factory, stacking timber.
I had always been good at sciences. My parents both have science backgrounds, so all of us kids were made to do the three sciences, which fortunately were the subjects I needed. Understanding them meant that I enjoyed them, but I didn’t know what I was going to do at university until 6th form and then I never had the confidence to tell anyone in case they laughed. I was never really an academic at school. Telling someone that I was going to try and get into such an academic course may have seemed very far fetched.
I decided on training as a vet because in the holidays I had worked as a casual shepherd at Mt Nicholas station. I got into training dogs. I loved working with the animals. One day I found myself thinking “I love farming but not the farming part, more the animal health and working with animals part”.
If I wasn’t working, I was kayaking. My brothers always kayaked, so I picked it up from there. The high spots of my time at school were in the 7th form, because I had so many trips away kayaking. I was so busy kayaking and training I didn’t have time to misbehave. My passion for it has developed over the years. It is such an awesome sport, physically and technically challenging and there is a huge adrenaline rush when going down a big white water course. There is nothing more that you could ask from a sport and some of my fondest childhood memories are of spending a day kayaking a river with my brothers.
Some of my kayaking achievements:
- 2008 selected into the Southland Sports Academy programme
- 2009 Southland Secondary School Sports Awards “Future Champion”
- 2010 Gold medals in New Zealand World Series Race, Southland Island Championships and Otago Paddles Up
- 2010 5 Silvers in the Australian Secondary School and Open Nationals
- 2011 Selection into the New Zealand under 23 team
- Open Nationals - 2nd in the under 23 men
- 2012 Open Nationals – 1st Open men 1st under 23 men
- Selection into the New Zealand under 23 team and Senior National Champion
- 2013 Oceana Championships – 1st under 23
- Selection into the New Zealand under 23 team
My Massey uni experience has been a blur, but an amazing blur. I can’t believe that I have been here for 2.5 years already. It is such a cool experience. You meet so many different people from so many walks of life. The work is so challenging and really opens your mind. I am learning so much I never thought I would understand. The best part about uni life is meeting people. If I go anywhere in New Zealand I will always have a bed.
Massey also has some of the best athlete support services. I am part of the “Massey Academy of Sport” and have full access to these services.
I am now half way through my 5 year degree course and plan to be a large animal vet. I want to work with all animals to start with, but long term, there is no way I am going to be caught working in Auckland fixing someone’s poodle!
When I qualify in 2015 I may get a job straight away, or I may pursue my sport, I’m not sure, but I have options, which is important. If I had just pursued my kayaking and not studied, I wouldn’t have these options. I’m happy just to let it play out, because they are both very exciting. There are currently plenty of job opportunities for young vets in NZ. 100 per cent of last year’s graduates got jobs.
My kayaking has taken me all over the world, but I would also like to work abroad. But in all honesty I can see myself returning to work and settle in this area (especially if global warming heats it up a bit!), Southland is in your blood.