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First-in-family scholarship inspires others


7 April 2017

First-in-family scholarship inspires others to see university as a possibility

When you have no family history of university attendance, or come from a community where higher education is not the norm, the challenges of making it ‘across the stage’ are manifold.

This year, 13 remarkable students from South Auckland have started studying towards bachelors degrees at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) as recipients of the third annual Woolf Fisher First-in-Family AUT Scholarship.

They are the first in their immediate families to attend university.

This move into unchartered territory represents a steep learning curve, both for the recipients of the scholarship as well as their families.

First-in-family students affect intergenerational change. Going to university signals a new educational cycle for the wider family – it encourages other family members to view higher education as a possibility.

Laryia Lomitusi, age 18, was recently awarded a Woolf Fisher First-in-Family AUT Scholarship.

The former deputy head girl from Tangaroa College in South Auckland is now working towards a Bachelor of Health Science at AUT.

As the eldest of seven children, she feels it is her responsibility to lead by example.

“My goal is to increase Pacific representation in the health sector. Also, to use the knowledge and skills that I gain to help my community in Otara and those back in Samoa,” says Lomitusi.

For her, the prospect of graduating with minimal debt makes all of the sacrifice and late-night study worthwhile.

The scholarship covers direct study costs for the duration of an undergraduate degree at AUT, with a nominal value of around NZ$20,000.

This year, nine of the 13 scholarship recipients were of Pacific descent.

Preference was given to applicants from South Auckland who demonstrated a commitment to bringing about change in their community.

AUT Vice-Chancellor, Derek McCormack says the University is proud to have partnered with the Woolf Fisher Trust to establish this scholarship.

“We want to encourage young New Zealanders to follow their dreams – to experience success in their chosen field of study and inspire others to attend university,” he says.

“AUT is committed to widening participation in university education and the Woolf Fisher First-in-Family AUT Scholarship is part of that commitment.”


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