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Young Northlanders' opportunity to study at AUT University

Young Northlanders provided the opportunity to study at AUT University

AUT University welcomed McDonald’s Global CEO and President Don Thompson onto Ngā Wai o Horotiu Marae on Thursday to introduce him to past and present recipients of the McDonald’s Te Tai Tokerau Scholarship. The scholarship, which began 22 years ago, assists young Māori from the Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) area during their studies at AUT. In 2013 five students were selected to receive the scholarship.

This is the first time in 22 years that the Global CEO and President of McDonald’s has visited AUT. During his address to a group of 100 AUT students and staff, Mr Thompson spoke of the importance of education. He shared his story of growing up in a household without much money near the projects of Chicago, his grandmother giving everything she had to see him graduate with an electrical engineering degree, and starting with McDonald’s 23 years ago, eventually becoming the Global CEO and President of a company with restaurants in 120 countries, employing 1.8 million people.

The five recipients of the scholarship each receive $10,000 over three years to contribute towards halls of residence and living costs. They are also well supported by Hariata Mareroa, Te Kaiwhakarite – Manager of the Māori Liaison Services at AUT, who they affectionately call “Mama”.

Chelsea Billich-Petersen, originally from Whangarei, was a recipient of the scholarship in 2012. Chelsea has come a long way since becoming an independent learner and moving out of home at age 16. With the help of the Te Tai Tokerau Scholarship, Chelsea is now in her final year of a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation majoring in Health and Physical Education, with the goal of becoming a Physical Education teacher. She says, “The financial support from McDonald’s as well as the support from AUT has allowed me to work towards my dreams.”

After graduating from Whangarei Boys’ High School as Deputy Head Boy in 2006, Kyle Richmond was able to make his dreams of studying at university a reality thanks to his scholarship. “I didn’t think that I was the right kind of person to go to university; I thought I would end up in the Navy. That all changed thanks to the support given to me as a recipient of my scholarship.” Kyle is now working for AuSM – AUT’s student union as an events coordinator, utilising his Diploma in Event Management.

“Our partnership with McDonald’s allows talented Māori the opportunity for potentially the first person in a whanau to be able to further their studies and take the skills they learn back to their communities, says AUT’s Head of Corporate and Community Affairs Aimee Driscoll. Ms Driscoll adds, “The financial support from McDonald’s combined with the whanau support from Hariata and her team is what makes this scholarship a success.”

Riana King, a 2012 scholarship recipient from Kaitaia College, now in her third year of a Bachelor of Health Sciences says, “The scholarship has helped me to make connections that I never thought I would be able to make. I now have a job as an AUT Student Mentor thanks to the people I have been able to meet as a recipient of this scholarship.”

AUT looks forward to another 22 years working with McDonald’s to help young Māori in Te Tai Tokerau achieve their dreams of tertiary study.

For further information on the scholarship, students from the Te Tai Tokerau region in their final year of high school should speak with their school careers advisor or principal.


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