Read about our past winners’ experiences of applying for and winning scholarships. They’re students just like you who decided to give it a go.
Amelia Van Slooten, University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship winner, recommends carefully researching the many scholarships available.
Currently in the second year of her PhD in Biomedical Science, Amelia is investigating the generation of new brain cells in the adult brain and how this self-repair process can be enhanced following a stroke.
As well as holding a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship Amelia says she is "extrememly fortunate" to also be co-tenuring with a W & B Miller Neurological Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship.
"The W & B Miller Postgraduate Scholarship provides me with a fortnightly stipend for at least two years and the University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship increases the value of this stipend, in addition to paying for course fees, for at least 3 years.
I highly recommend that anyone planning on undertaking a PhD carefully researches the many scholarship opportunities available in order to relieve the financial burden on this extensive journey and focus more on what is important: the PhD."
Find more information about The University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship
In his third year as an undergraduate student studying Electrical Engineering, 21-year-old Andrew Austin saw a flyer advertising the Eastland Infrastructure Scholarship. He applied and surprised himself by winning the $5,000 scholarship funded by the Gisborne Region’s power authority.
"It was a pretty major boost," says Andrew. "The scholarship paid for all my fees in my final undergraduate year and was very encouraging in terms of my studies." Over the summer of that year, Andrew was paid to work on specific Eastland Infrastructure projects in Gisborne.
The Auckland City Council Māori and Pacific Scholarship was first awarded in 2008. It was also Bes Takimoana Lironi's first scholarship she ever applied for and won. "I didn't expect to get it, I was really surprised," she says.
Bes says the $4,500 scholarship helped cut back her work hours and allowed her to focus on the final year of her BSc. "It definitely made things a lot easier." Winning has also given her confidence to apply for further scholarships. Currently studying a Postgraduate Diploma in Enviromental Science, Bes is a recipient of The University of Auckland Māori and Pacific Graduate scholarship.
For more information, see The University of Auckland Māori and Pacific Graduate scholarship.
British-born Brett Christophers had been working in London for ten years supporting a young family when he decided he wanted to combine overseas travel with further university study.
"I already had a masters in Human Geography from UBC in Canada," he explains, "and I decided I wanted to do my PhD in either Australia or New Zealand."
In 2005 Brett was awarded a University of Auckland Commonwealth Scholarship. Now living in New Zealand with his family, he is into the third year of his research looking at the economies of the international trade in television programmes.
"It's been a fantastic experience," he says, "and the Commonwealth Scholarship has made it all so much easier."
Second-year student Brierley Penn believes getting involved in lots of groups at school is the key to winning a University of Auckland Scholarship.
Originally from Wanganui High School where she was Head of Academia, Brierley was also involved in debating (nationally and internationally), the school choir, the school newspaper and volunteered for groups such as Amnesty International, World Vision and the Wanganui District Youth Council.
"I think it's important to be involved as possible while you're at school, because once you get to University there's just not enough time to be involved in such a wide range of activities. What was awesome about school, 7th form in particular, was finding out what I really enjoyed and those are the things that I carried on this year, like debating."
Brierley is finding her University of Auckland Scholarship (which pays all tuition fees and also $5,000 per annum for out of Auckland students) "so helpful" as it has eased the financial pressures of University study. "I've been able to enrol in Summer School these holidays without having to worry about working," she says.
Brierley is currently studying a BCom/LLB conjoint and is also planning on taking French.
You can read about Brierley's first-year experiences at The University of Auckland on the student blog The Inside Word.
Find more information about The University of Auckland Scholarship
University of Auckland Alumni Scholarship recipient Carl Newby recently won a Summer Studentship to analyse a yacht keel vibration called 'flutter'. For the 23-year-old, who also made the 2009 Dean's List of top 5% students, it's a great opportunity to gain experience before entering the final year of his Bachelor of Engineering. Not to mention helping yachties avoid calamity on the open seas. "Flutter can break keels, it's disastrous," he explains.
Originally from Whangarei Boys' High School and an Alumni scholarship recipient since 2006, Carl has an avid interest in all things mechanical. He is looking at researching the use of alternative fuels for his final year project.
"I've been experimenting with hydrogen since high school," he says. "It used to get the neighbours looking over the fence because it made such a good bang. We claimed it was in the name of science."
Carl has a few other scholarships but says the Alumni scholarship has been especially helpful because of the supportive staff and regular social outings. "If you're away from family and home, University can be a pretty daunting environment at first. I've really enjoyed being able to hang out with the other Alumni Scholars."
Having just returned from South East Asia, Charlotte Burgess was surprised to learn she'd won a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake a PhD at Oxford University. “All the other candidates were of such a high quality that I was in the process of applying to other Universities", she says. “I still haven't taken it in. The scholarship means the next three years of my life have completely changed and potentially, my whole life will alter as a result".
A Masters graduate in History, Charlotte's PhD research will focus on the the emotional experiences of aging in British people over the age of 60. She will be based at Oxford but is looking forward to balancing study with the occasional trip to the continent. “It's been a dream of mine to do my OE, so I'm sure a weekend in Paris will be on the cards”.
Winning the Anne Reid Memorial Trust Scholarship coincided with Chris Cottrell's second wedding anniversary, giving him two reasons to celebrate that day. Initially an architecture student at The University of Auckland, Chris stepped sideways into an installation and performance art practice in the final year of his studies. Now he is currently completing his Master of Fine Arts at the Edinburgh College of Art.
Receiving the scholarship has been a hugely encouraging experience for Chris. "It's a fantastic feeling that someone else values what I am doing and is prepared to support my practice and continuing education," he says. (You can check out some of Chris' installation and performance art on his website www.make-do.net)
The Anne Reid Memorial Scholarship, established by Colin Reid, was generously increased to more than one winner this year and gave two postgraduate students the opportunity to study overseas. Applications close 1 August for the 2011 round.
When Daniel Walker found out he was getting the Toi Uru Roa: Paul Kelly Māori Undergradute Scholarship at a presentation last year he was "stoked". The scholarship awards $3,500 for up to three years of undergraduate study in Business and Economics.
Currently in the 3rd year of a BCom majoring in Finance, Daniel advises "you're not losing anything by applying for scholarships. I'm not a straight A+ student but I do a lot of community work and extra-curricular activities which the Selection Committee took into consideration".
"My University of Auckland Scholarship has helped me start building a great career."
"I chose The University of Auckland because I was attracted by what their Business School had to offer. Moving from a small place like Otorohanga was pretty scary at first, but it didn’t take long to settle in and student life was awesome. Mentoring was such a great help so now I’m mentoring others. The social life is really good, both on and off campus. And it’s only a two-hour drive home to the farm when I need a dose of country life."
David Williams is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce conjoint at The University of Auckland. David was dux and head boy at Otorohanga College.
Doron Hickey (25), a trainee intern based at The University of Auckland’s Waikato Clinical School, is one of three students around the country who have been awarded prestigious and valuable Woolf Fisher Scholarships.
These scholarships recognise students who have demonstrated outstanding academic ability as well as such qualities as integrity, leadership, vision and capacity for work. They cover four years of postgraduate research at Oxford or Cambridge University at a value of up to NZ$100,000 annually.
Doron entered the medical (MBChB) programme at The University of Auckland in 2004. After his fifth year he gained a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree at the Australian National University. This year Doron is completing his clinical training for his medical degree at Waikato Hospital, not far from Hillcrest High School where he was dux in 2003, the same year he was New Zealand’s top Scholarship student in Mathematics with Statistics.
In 2008 Elena Ching was searching on the scholarships website when she chanced upon the Kelly Undergraduate Scholarship. "I decided to give it a go and apply for it." She was elated when she won. "It has made a significant difference for me. I've used the money to pay for coursebooks and textbooks for my accounting papers and part of it has paid for a new laptop."
Currently in her 3rd year of a BCom/LLB, Elena believes writing a thoughtful essay and having good referees definitely helped her win the scholarship, but says applying is the key.
"You never know whether you're going to be the winner."
Gareth Shalley had just got into Medical School when he was told about the new Brick Family Scholarship for second-year medical students who demonstrated academic merit but were in financial need. At the time he was living at home with his family who were struggling to come to terms with the untimely death of their husband and father a few years earlier.
"So I applied and became the inaugural Brick Family Scholar," says Gareth. "I don't know if I'd have continued with medicine without the scholarship [worth about $12,000 per year]," he adds.
Now a fourth-year medical student, the 25-year-old has no regrets. "I love medicine and I'm really glad I took the step!"
When Helen Hamer, Senior Lecturer and Nurse Consultant in the University’s School of Nursing, enrolled in her PhD in Mental Health Nursing, one of her first objectives was to win a Senior Health Research Scholarship so she could take study leave from her job.
"It was a lifestyle choice," she explains, "a chance to have some work-life balance."
"Now having the scholarship means I can make a full-time commitment to my PhD and at the same time maintain some lecturing and clinical work to keep my nursing practice up to date."
Josh Hudson applied for three Engineering scholarships last year and won the SKM Civil Engineering Scholarship. The scholarship pays for part of his fees for two years and the full amount in his final year.
Since he's just started his third year, majoring in Enviromental Engineering, Josh is grateful that the scholarship allows him to focus on his study rather than working part-time during the year and that he won't have to worry about a large student loan when he finishes. The wide variety of scholarships for his faculty meant that Josh was able to pick and choose what he wanted to apply for. "I'd encourage anyone to give it a go, there's lots of different engineering scholarships," he says.
Louise Lowe was absolutely shocked and surprised when she won the University of Auckland Talent Fund Award 2008. The single parent of a three year old, Louise wasn't even going to apply but she's certainly glad she did. Apart from the money which came in handy, she says winning the award has given her the confidence to apply for, and win, other scholarships.
Currently in her 3rd year of a BEd in Primary Teaching, Louise encourages students to apply for scholarships even if they think they're not going to get them. "Go for it, nothing ventured nothing gained. I'm a single mum, I'm a mature student and I'm from Opotiki, which doesn't even have traffic lights!," she says. "If you work hard and believe in yourself anything is possible."
As well as studying full-time Mahrukh looks after her two small children while her husband studies and works part time.
She confesses that her research, a comparative study of two post-colonial writers and their use of the female narrative perspective, has been a journey of self-discovery yet the going has not always been easy with rising living costs.
"Getting this award has given me a huge psychological boost. It's also a positive reinforcement that I've made the right choice to undertake a PhD," says Mahrukh. "It's good to know that the University appreciates the financial struggle that families like us are going through".
The University of Auckland Partnership Appeal Award is to assist students in their final year of study and can award up to $5,000 depending on individual circumstances.
Winning a prestigious Bright Futures Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship means Maree Foley will be flying up to Auckland University once a month. "I was very lucky to find some supervisors at The University of Auckland who were spot on for my topic", says Wellington-based Maree, who is currently enrolled at The University of Auckland's Business School for her Management and Employment Relations thesis.
One of seven winners from the December round of Bright Future Top Achiever Doctorals, Maree says she was 'shocked' when she received the news. “I didn't expect to win particularly because I knew I was competing against such good applicants but I really did put a huge amount of effort into the application. In terms of scholarship status the Bright Futures opens up doors, in terms of your CV and pride it's something pretty nice”.
Margie Agalid won a two-year Asian Development Bank (ADB) Scholarship in 2009 to study at The University of Auckland. She has completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts and is now part-way through a Master of Arts in Development Studies focusing on regional trade between the Philippines and Samoa.
“Development studies is a small group,” she says. “But a lot of the students are from other countries so it’s a good opportunity to learn about international issues. There's also loads of research material which I hadn't realised existed up until now."
The ADB Scholarship is for postgraduate students from Asia and the Pacific and includes coverage of tuition fees, a living allowance, health insurance and a book allowance.
Margie, originally from the Philippines, believes scholarships like the ADB are especially good as they enable students from developing nations to study postgraduate degrees outside their home country.
“When I go home people always ask me, 'How did you get that scholarship?' I tell them: 'The internet. Go to the university website where you want to study and then look at the lists of the scholarships and find out the requirements for each.'
“A lot of information about scholarships doesn't get to students who live outside the main centres,” she explains. “But hopefully now with the internet, students will be able to access information that they couldn't before and take advantage of the opportunities that going to a university like this offers.”
Matthew Barrett is a two-time winner of the Evan Gibb Hudson Scholarship in Engineering. The scholarship was set up in 1949 by Harold Hudson to honour the memory of his son, Evan Gibb Hudson, who was just 22 when he was killed while serving with the New Zealand Army in France during the First World War.
Part of the eligibility criteria for the scholarship is that a recipient must be a member of the military. While studying full-time toward his degree, Matthew completed two years of part-time training to become an officer in the Territorial Force of the New Zealand Army. Matthew was commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Artillery Regiment and at his commissioning ceremony in 2008, he paraded with Lieutenant Hudson’s sword, which may be used by the scholarship recipient on appropriate military occasions.
Now in the second year of a PhD in Bioengineering, Matthew is grateful to have been awarded the $2,500 undergraduate scholarship two years in a row. “Second Lieutenant Hudson was the same age and rank as me when he lost his life in WWI, so it was a very special honour to be awarded the scholarship and parade with his sword.”
Melanie Collings (Te Rarawa) is on a Tūāpapa Pūtaiao Māori Fellowship while working towards a PhD in Molecular Biology.
"The fellowship has been absolutely brilliant," she says. "It has enabled me to focus completely on my research which aims to understand how human cell division is regulated."
The fellowship scholarship has also opened up opportunities for Mel by paying for attendance at both national and international conferences. Recently she attended a conference at Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in upstate New York.
"This is one of the world’s top molecular biology research facilities and to be able to meet and talk with people from there including Nobel Prize winner James Watson was just wonderful", she says.
Find more information about the Te Tipu Putaiao Fellowship (this fellowship replaces the Tūāpapa Pūtaiao Māori Fellowship)
University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship winner Miriam Bissett says she found applying for a doctoral programme “very easy”. The whole process of finding a suitable supervisor, creating an original topic of research and applying through the internet, took less than two months.
Miriam is just three months into her PhD, looking at archaic Greek festivals by analysing ancient written sources and vase-painting.
“For my particular field there's not quite as much research material as I would like, and that was one of the reservations that my supervisor had for accepting me to stay here”, she says. “For instance, how many museums do we have in New Zealand that contain Greek artifacts? They're mostly in museums in Europe and North America.”
But a lot of information is on the internet anyway, she adds, and thanks to the doctoral scholarship and tutoring she will have every opportunity to present papers at overseas conferences and visit museums. Despite the lure of international opportunities, Miriam is adamant she wouldn't want to do her PhD anywhere other than The University of Auckland.
“I love it here, I don't want to be anywhere else,” she says.
Find more information about The University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship
During her second year studying for a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Korean, Momomi Ota won a four-week Study Abroad Scholarship to Korea. She used the $2,000 award to spend four weeks studying at Sungkyungkwan University in Seoul and says it was an invaluable experience and greatly improved her understanding of the Korean language.
Nathan Deed is four months into his PhD, and says that winning the George Mason Scholarship in Biological Sciences has made it "much easier" to devote time to his research on plant cell expansion.
"I've always been interested in biology," says 22-year-old Nathan. "I live in a bushy area in Titirangi, so I've always liked being around plants." A winner of seven other awards since he started studying in 2005, Nathan believes in applying for as many scholarships as you can, as "you never know".
There are two types of George Mason Scholarships available. A $25,000 scholarship in Biological Sciences is offered every three years (next available 2012), while up to two $5,000 scholarships in Marine Science are offered annually.
Nina Hall is the first University of Auckland Scholarship recipient to win a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. The 24-year-old is a former pupil of Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Wellington, where she was Head of Debating, Swimming and the Upper School in her final year.
Nina graduated from the University of Auckland with a BA and first class BA Honours in Political studies in 2007. "The University of Auckland Scholarship was invaluable," she says. "I was able to concentrate and focus on studying – rather than having to worry about working long hours to earn money." Furthering her studies with a MA in Political Studies, Nina discovered another side to academic research when she undertook three weeks of intensive field work in East Timor for her thesis.
"It was fascinating to be in East Timor and see with my own eyes what a 'post-conflict' situation is like – UN jeeps lining the streets and curfews after dark. In the midst of that I met some fantastic, passionate, people who were dedicated to making Timor-Leste a strong, stable democratic nation."
Winning a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship means Nina can take an even more active role in global issues. At Oxford University, her PhD will look at migration from developing countries with a focus on the transit centres set up in Italy, France and Spain for processing illegal immigrants from Africa.
As well as having a strong interest in social justice and environmental groups, Nina is also a keen sportswoman and hopes to be able to continue tramping, rock climbing, swimming, biking and running at Oxford. She's also considering trying out for the rowing team. "It’s such a traditional Oxford sport," she says. "I’ve always wanted to give it a go!"
Find more information about The University of Auckland Scholarship
Find more information about the Rhodes Scholarship
Richard Higgins is one of just three New Zealanders awarded a Rhodes Scholarship for 2011 to support his postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford.
The 23-year-old is the second University of Auckland Scholarship recipient to gain the prestigious scholarship, which is among the most esteemed worldwide for university graduates furthering their studies overseas.
Richard believes that The University of Auckland Scholarship helped to prepare him for Oxford by making him "work harder and consider things more thoroughly." He says it also opened up a wide network of students and staff, some of which have become mentors.
"During the selection process for the Rhodes Scholarship, it means a lot to believe that you are representing New Zealand’s strongest university. I have had incredible lecturers who not only have taught well, but more importantly have been generous with their time on a personal level."
He thinks that the most critical elements for winning a Rhodes Scholarship are "having a dream for your life, having a genuine passion for serving others, and showing the committee that you are a solid human being who is capable of doing great things."
In October 2011 Richard will travel to the UK to begin his MPhil in Development Studies. Although he has never been to the UK he says he is a bit of a 'closet monarchist', and has quite a few ancestral ties.
"The majority of my family ancestry comes from the UK and Scotland, so to finally be visiting the areas we came from and being able to breathe the history of those places will be pretty special."
Seabourne Rust, who is nearing the end of a PhD in Geology, says a three-year University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship has been pivotal in enabling him to study the palaeontology and habitat ecology of Bryozoans (a group of colonial marine animals) who have occupied the Wanganui basin over the last three million years.
"Financial restraints would’ve prevented me from continuing study without the scholarship," says the 32-year-old.
Originally from Dunedin, Seabourne has carried out extensive fieldwork in Wanganui and Taranaki for his doctorate and hopes to complete it early in 2008.
"If you have a strong academic record and a strong involvement with your local community, then you'll be a prime candidate for a Freemasons University Scholarship", says winner Tom Wakefield. Apart from the $6,000, which reduced the need to work in the final year of his BCom/BSc, it was the Scholarship's community aspect which struck a chord with Tom. "The Freemasons University Scholarship changed my perspective on community work. It really made me look at how much I helped out and made me realise that I could give more", he says.
Find more information about the Freemasons Scholarships
Italian-born Valentina Napoli says winning a three-year University of Auckland International Doctoral Scholarship is an honour and that without the financial support she could not have undertaken her PhD here.
A graduate of the University of Rome, Valentina is in the first year of a comparitive study of the works of Witi Ihimaera. The research takes up most of her time during the week, but the 32-year-old keeps weekends free to socialise with new friends from her hall of residence. "At Huia I've met such wonderful people from all over the world," she says. "It's so nice to live in a multi-cultural environment."
No stranger to living abroad, Valentina speaks three languages (Italian, French and English) and is now getting to grips with Māori. "I've been trying to learn Māori but it is quite difficult," she laughs. "I've learnt 'aroha' so far."
Yana Krivykh, winner of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants BCom (Hons) Scholarship, says accounting has always had a certain appeal.
"My family owns a car company in Russia, so I've always been interested in the way a business works."
The 22-year-old is in the final semester of her Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) and has just been offered an auditing job at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she completed a summer internship.
"A summer internship is a really good way to go, it's almost guaranteed to give you a full-time position," she explains.
Winning the $5,000 scholarship—just one of several generous graduate scholarships available through the Business School—came as a complete surprise, but Yana is pleased that all her hard work has paid off.
In 2005, Yeri Ahn was head girl at Christchurch Girls High School when she applied for, and won, a University of Auckland Scholarship. This covers fees and extra funding for a recipient’s undergraduate years "and it was definitely the reason I chose to study at Auckland", says Yeri.
Now in her second year of a Bachelor of Medicine, Yeri, 18, is using the scholarship funds to pay for her accommodation at Grafton Hall. She is also enjoying social meetings and lunches with other scholarship winners and has been paired up with a mentor which has helped make her feel at home on the Auckland campus.