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Scholarships provide support, opportunities and motivation

Wednesday 31 March 2021 3:51pm

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The 2021 recipients of Alumni Entrance Scholarships.

The benefits of an Alumni Entrance Scholarship range from vital financial support to increased opportunities and added motivation to do well, according to this year’s scholarship recipients.

The 2021 scholars were welcomed to Otago last week by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Professor Tony Ballantyne and Director of Development and Alumni Relations Shelagh Murray. The first-year students have come from all around the country and received a range of scholarships offered by generous Otago alumni.

“One donor who lives overseas studied at Otago in the early 1970s. He started out providing two entrance scholarships to students of Otago and this year he is providing five. When asked why he donates to these scholarships he told us ‘when I was a student, I benefitted from a free education at both Cashmere High School and the University of Otago. This enabled me to be qualified and to earn a good living, and also enjoy the wonderful student life’.”

“We are so grateful for all such gifts. They enrich our community, creating opportunities for a new generation of students – all of you – enabling you to gain new skills, knowledge and life experience, equipping you to make a difference after you graduate and go out into the world,” said Professor Ballantyne.

“On behalf of all the staff I want to congratulate you on your successes to date and we look forward to walking alongside you on your journey here at the University of Otago.”

Ms Murray says many of the donors were themselves recipients of a scholarship when they were at Otago and they know the difference this made to them and their families.

“One donor who lives overseas studied at Otago in the early 1970s. He started out providing two entrance scholarships to students of Otago and this year he is providing five. When asked why he donates to these scholarships he told us ‘when I was a student, I benefitted from a free education at both Cashmere High School and the University of Otago. This enabled me to be qualified and to earn a good living, and also enjoy the wonderful student life’.”

Alumni Appeal Scholar Mieneke Burns is studying for a Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood at the Invercargill campus. “The scholarship is helping so much,” says Mieneke. “As a solo mum of two it has taken a weight off my shoulders, I’m very grateful.”

Mieneke says she’s had the idea of studying teaching in the back of her mind for a long time. “With both kids at kindergarten I found myself just hanging around and helping out and the teachers said I should do it, and I finally decided to take the plunge.”

Malachi Whare-Kanzaran, from Rotorua, figured out about half-way through last year that he wanted to come to Otago to study Law. Staying at Cumberland College, Malachi says the 71-73 Alumni Entrance Scholarship has made it a lot easier to afford the accommodation. “And having the scholarship makes me want to try hard.”

Callis Trust Performance Entrance Scholarship recipient Elizabeth Ellison is studying for a double major in Theatre studies and Music, focusing on performance. She’s putting her scholarship towards her college fees for Te Rangi Hiroa College.

“I decided to be brave and bold and go it alone, without help from my parents,” says Elizabeth, who has come from Christchurch. To help with the costs of university she’s also been working in an ice cream truck and taught singing and dancing to children.

For Phoebe Barratt, a second-year Biomedical student majoring in infection and immunology, the Sir Murray F. Brennan Scholarship in Rowing means she will be able to come out of her undergraduate degree debt free. After the disruptions caused by COVID-19 lockdowns last year, Phoebe says it’s “good to be back on campus with in-person teaching.”

S & G Higgs Scholarship recipient Charlotte Lewis says she always wanted to come to Otago but never thought it would be possible. “The scholarship is pretty much the reason I’m here, to be honest.”

Charlotte, from Auckland, is studying Health Sciences First Year and is putting the scholarship towards her accommodation fees at Cumberland College. “It’s taken the pressure off my family and myself and given me a lot of opportunities.”