A MAZENOD College student has taken out one of Monash's most prestigious student prizes.
Year 10 student Vimaj Peiris has won the Norman A. Smith Memorial Scholarship after an exhaustive selection process.
Across Monash, 28 students applied for the scholarship and only five were selected as finalists.
Applicants were asked to sit a general knowledge test, complete a research project on a World War I soldier and take part in an interview.
Vimaj, 16, said the process was no walk in the park. "It kind of pushed you," he said.
Students were judged on their leadership qualities, academic ability, decision-making skills and community involvement.
Waverley RSL has been running the scholarship for 27 years and has given away almost $150,000 in prize money.
Geoff Dare, from the RSL's scholarship subcommittee, said the calibre of some of the entries blew the judges away.
"We put them through the mill pretty heavily," he said. "These kids really are good."
The scholarship, which is open to all year 10 students living or studying in the city of Monash, is named after community stalwart and Waverley RSL committee member Norm Smith.
"We've had some really remarkable young people and they've all gone on to very good jobs in later life. They've gone into the medical profession, into law, we've got one who's a senior partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers," Mr Dare said.
Winners receive $5000, which is awarded over two years. In the past, student have used the money for new computers, musical instruments or for trips overseas to further their language learning.
Mr Dare called for more students to apply for the scholarship.
"Norm Smith himself was very keen to encourage young people to play sport, to get involved with acting and entertaining and to push themselves a little bit further to become leaders in the community," he said. "And that's what we've been looking for — leaders in the community."
Vimaj plans to put his prize money into his schooling.
"I either want to go into the medical field or the engineering field but I don't have a specific occupation in mind at the moment," he said.
He encouraged other students to compete for the scholarship.
"It's a great thing to be a part of."