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Generous bequeathment helps MIT nursing students

Generous bequeathment helps MIT nursing students

A generous donation from the estate of a Takanini couple will provide grants to assist Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) nursing students suffering financial hardship.

The estate of Jewell Constance Neil and her husband Alton Douglas Neil gifted the sum of $270 thousand to MIT’s Faculty of Nursing and Health Studies in 2011.

The money has been put into a fund called the Neil Trust which will annually award two $2000 grants to second or third year Bachelor of Nursing students studying at MIT and finding it difficult financially to complete their studies.

The first two nursing students to receive Neil Trust grants were presented with their cheques at a special ceremony at MIT by Neil Panther, the couple’s nephew who was also their closest relative and namesake.

The two recipients are both studying MIT’s new Bachelor of Nursing Pacific programme which started in 2010.

Mature student, Sifahula Leavai from Manurewa is in her third year of study and is part of the first class to study the Bachelor of Nursing Pacific and will form a group of the first graduates of the programme in November this year.

Of Niuean heritage, Sifa is married, has three children and said tearfully at the ceremony that the grant will certainly be a big help. “It is much appreciated by me and my family.”

Mount Roskill resident, Fleur Malifa is a mature second year student, of Maori descent and a mother of five. She says she cried when she found out she been chosen out of the many applications to receive the award.“It will make such a huge difference and that’s why I had such an emotional response,” she says.

Both students hope to work in district nursing in the community to help Pacific Island and Maori people and to apply the skills they are learning in MIT’s Bachelor of Nursing Pacific programme.

Neil Panther said his Aunt Jewel Neil was a nurse working in both hospitals and as a district nurse in the community. He told those gathered at the ceremony that she was always supportive of women’s rights and was very passionate about nursing and she always promoted education.

“I am so pleased to see the money is making a difference and is being used exactly as my Aunt and Uncle wanted it to be – to help students studying nursing,” he says.

MIT’s Dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Health Studies, Dr Willem Fourie says, “We really value the donation by Jewel and Alton Neil.” “Our nursing students are often mature people with children or extended family to take care of,” he says.

“So the fact they left the money for students having financial hardships is so appropriate and fitting as the money can really be put to good use here at MIT’s Faculty of Nursing as many of our students are in that position.”


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