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New scholarships open doors for Pacific and Commerce students

Monday 1 August 2022 12:31pm

A generous gift to the Otago Foundation Trust will fund substantial scholarships for 10 first-year Pacific students and 10 Commerce students.

Kheelan Thompson-Tonga
Kheelan Thompson-Tonga

Two Otago alumni donors, who wish to remain anonymous, have gifted $200,000 per year for the next five years to fund the entrance scholarships, with the inaugural scholarships awarded this year.

The Pacific scholarships will support 10 students from low decile backgrounds with $10,000 scholarships each, with no restrictions on subject range, while the Commerce scholarships will support 10 students from low decile backgrounds who wish to study Commerce with $10,000 scholarships each.

The donors say they established the scholarships to “enable and encourage less privileged students to participate fully in tertiary education while relieving financial pressures which they and their families might otherwise endure”.

The donors firmly believe education is a fundamental tool to attaining personal goals and setting targets for the students’ futures which will ultimately lead to greater self-sufficiency and a pathway out of hardship for both them and their communities.

The donors regard giving as a two-way win-win which gives both sides a sense of fulfilment and self-worth.

Inaugural Pacific scholarship recipient Kheelan Thompson-Tonga (Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Porou), from Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, says the scholarship has “lifted an immense amount of pressure and financial hardship off my whānau and myself”.

Dismayed at the standard of healthcare available in her homeland, since a young age Kheelan has dreamed of studying medicine. “And now I can wholeheartedly focus on succeeding for the benefit of my people,” she says.

Max Doyle
Max Doyle

Commerce scholarship recipient Max Doyle grew up in Ararimu and attended Hauraki Plains College, where he developed a strong interest in business and economics.

Max says the scholarship has reduced the financial burden of attending university. “This not only allows me to focus on but also motivates me to maintain a high pass rate and complete my degree. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope that one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me,” says Max.

The scholarships have been established in collaboration with the Pacific Development Office, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Commerce and the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO).

Director of DARO Shelagh Murray says the scholarships are a fantastic initiative and will create life-changing opportunities for young people, including some who may not have otherwise been able to attend university.

“These scholarships will open the door to a world-class education at Otago and help some of our most talented young people achieve their potential,” says Ms Murray. “We are extremely grateful to the donors for their inspiring contribution to the future – of the students themselves and also through them to society as a whole.”