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Rangi Stories – Valerie Xiang

Valerie attended Rangi Ruru from 2014 to 2018, is an award-winning chamber musician, and a medical and arts student at University of Otago.


At Rangi I received invaluable support from teachers who encouraged my passion for learning. Whether through extension activities or through the classroom environment they created. A full school schedule pushed me to develop time-management skills, trained my ability to focus, and taught me an appreciation for the importance of self-care. I was involved in nearly every music group, as well as being Head of Music, on the Sustainability and Cultural Councils and a Peer Support Tutor.

I also gained confidence; this has allowed me to pursue new opportunities and roles. In 2021, I was a speaker on a panel about Asian Health as part of the Medical School’s cultural competence course – something which would have previously been far out of my comfort zone. Involvement in school life also offered experiences in collaboration and leadership; these helped me hugely while co-ordinating the inaugural Pride Week for Rainbow Otago Medical Students’ Association.

I maintained a 50:50 split of Humanities and STEM subjects through to Year 13; even now I have remained involved in as many non-science pursuits as possible. Things like writing, music, and languages help me to stay sane amongst a sea of scientific content. Additionally, the skills I’ve gained from these subjects are highly transferable.

NCEA gave me valuable practice in managing an exam season, and in general time management and study skills. Internals introduced some much-welcomed variety into learning. While I still enjoy external exams, you can definitely feel the increased stress come exam season. Rangi Ruru has some amazing teachers. I was acutely aware of how fortunate I was to be attending a school with such lovely staff and fantastic resources. Appreciation for the staff, facilities, and the opportunities that Rangi provided motivated me to be my best self.

Every individual girl is valued at Rangi. Having such a small and safe community in which to, for lack of a better phrase, ‘find myself’ really did make a difference. There’s also a culture wherein you don’t have to be a national champion or get the best grades; if you put in the mahi and show up for yourself, that’s rewarded and respected. Going into university and into the real world, where you’re one face in a sea of thousands, these attitudes have helped me to strive for achievement while remaining kind to myself.