Changing lives - the impact of a gift

A gift in your will to support staff and students at the University of Auckland can have an amazing impact. Here are stories from those who benefited from such gifts and how their lives were changed.

Murray Wren Scholarships – Inspiring future architects

The Wren scholarships are named for Murray Wren who trained at the School of Architecture in the 1940s during the rise of the renowned Group Architects. He spent most of his professional architectural career in London where he died in 2013.

The Architectural scholarships fund a masters student every year, a doctoral scholarship once every three years and an undergraduate scholarship is awarded annually and covers the three years of the degree.

Jannyne Bianco is in her first year of a Bachelor of Architecture and is the recipient of a Wren Undergraduate Scholarship.

“When I started university I had to support my family and I was nervous about my financial situation,” says Jannyne. “I received a student allowance, but that wasn’t enough to cover costs. The scholarship is a godsend.”

She is interested in transportable urban housing and sustainability issues: “Many recent residential developments in Auckland are poorly built and may not be strong enough to withstand environmental events such as the cyclones that have hit New Zealand recently. I want to break barriers with more adventurous, resilient designs in our cities.”

When Mariano Fernandez Janezic finished his Bachelor of Architecture, he wanted to go on and do a two-year Masters programme focusing on public and community architecture within New Zealand.

“But when I asked myself if I could realistically afford postgraduate study while living in Auckland, the answer was no,” says Mariano. “Government funding no longer extends to postgraduate programmes, and architecture is a significant financial commitment.”

Instead, Mariano planned to take a year off to earn money. But winning a Murray Wren Architectural Masters Scholarship changed that.  It covers fees for the two years of the degree and means Mariano can continue his studies “unencumbered by financial pressures”.

“After graduating I want to get stuck into New Zealand architectural practice at the forefront of design,” he says. “I am also keen to work overseas and see how they are dealing with heritage conservation issues and innovative ways to incorporate medium density housing in a historic context.”

Murray Wren’s scholarships are already fulfilling his intent of helping students who would otherwise be dissuaded from architectural study. For Mariano and Jannyne, it is generosity that’s had an immediate impact.

Ann Rich Holway Memorial Scholarship – Bringing dreams a step closer

Sobia Mughal, 2016 Scholarship recipient

I was very happy to learn that I was a recipient of the Ann Rich Holway Memorial Scholarship and very thankful for the generous financial support it gave towards my postgraduate studies in Marketing.

I am pursuing a Master of Commerce in Marketing degree at the University of Auckland Business School. My thesis is investigating what motivates consumers in the sharing economy to become service providers. This will enable companies in the sharing economy such as Uber to balance supply and demand.

Some of my key aspirations include:

  • Starting up a Marketing Consultant company which includes market research services within 10 years
  • Guest speaking at various seminars, conferences and workshops to inspire young leaders
  • Publish research articles to make academic contributions
  • Volunteer and teach basic education to young and underprivileged girls in developing countries
  • Upon completion of my degree, work as a marketing professional within the travel and tourism industry.

By awarding me the Ann Rich Holway Memorial Scholarship, I was able to concentrate on my current primary goal, which is my research and education. Your financial generosity has enabled me to go one step closer to my goals and has inspired me even more to help others by giving back in the community. I hope that one day I am able to help other students achieve their goals just as you have helped me.

Thank you once again, I am very grateful.

Sobia Mughal, 2016 Scholarship recipient

Ferguson and Marjorie Prince Charitable Trust – Furthering world-leading Parkinson’s research

Funds from the Ferguson and Marjorie Prince Charitable Trust allowed us to undertake world-leading research into the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. This work involved the use of a novel technology developed in our lab, which allows us to directly turn human skin cells into immature brain cells. We can subsequently grow these into specific types of mature brain cells.

The funds obtained from the Prince Charitable Trust allowed us to further our technology to generate dopamine brain cells, the cell type selectively lost in Parkinson’s disease, from human skin. By taking skin samples from patients with Parkinson’s disease and using these to generate dopamine brain cells, we can study the mechanisms that cause dopamine brain cells to die in Parkinson’s disease, and identify possible new drugs for the treatment of this debilitating disorder.

Previously, it had not been possible to study human dopamine cells from Parkinson’s patients in this way. These cells also offer an exciting opportunity for cell transplantation therapy for Parkinson’s disease, generating replacement brain cells from a patient’s own skin.

Professor Bronwen Connor, Faculty of Medical Health Sciences

The Anne Reid Memorial Trust – Scholarships to the world

Tianyi is a conductor based in Melbourne. Elizabeth plays solo piccolo in Germany. Celeste is pursuing a PhD in music composition in San Diego. Cushla is an award-winning artist and researcher exhibiting internationally. Violinist Olivia lives in Germany. John-Paul is a freelance musician based in London. Anna is studying in New York.

These alumni are members of a group of 27 New Zealanders pursuing their careers internationally thanks to the Anne Reid Memorial Trust set up in 2002. The Trust assists post-graduate students to study Art History, English literature, Music or Fine Arts overseas. It has supported and transformed many lives. Among them is Tianyi Lu.

There are only a few women conductors in the world and Tianyi is one of them. It’s a passion she’s had since she was 19, but with no qualification available here in New Zealand, she knew she had to study overseas.

“I had hardly any experience, very little money, and no international reputation. I relied on the wisdom and guidance from my incredible teachers and mentors from the University of Auckland and, of course, the generosity of others. I cannot emphasise just how important the Anne Reid Scholarship was in allowing me to take the step to train overseas. It was a key point in my life without which the rest of my story could not have been written.

“We are all the culmination of the many many people who have made an indelible impact on our lives, and The Anne Reid Memorial Trust has done that for all the Trust Scholars. They have empowered us, and therefore enriched the world with generosity, foresight and inspiration.”

Sir Alexander Johnstone Scholarship in Law – supporting legal scholarship

When Diana Qiu received the Sir Alexander Johnstone Scholarship in 2018, it opened a world of exciting potential.

The scholarship has empowered her and given her the financial security to pursue her passion for mooting. She won both the Greg Everard Memorial Moot 2018 and the John Haigh Memorial Moot 2018 as well as representing Auckland at the Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot Court Competition in Germany. It has also allowed her to pursue other study opportunities.  

“Amongst other things the scholarship helped to fund my travel to attend educational conferences such as the AMINZ "Making It Work" conference in Wellington. The conference was an amazing opportunity to meet diverse people with a wide range of experience in the dispute resolution industry. It was also exciting to be part of the inception of the AMINZ-AUT Arbitration Young Practitioners Group in New Zealand.

“I am grateful to the Sir Alexander Johnstone Scholarship bequest as it has allowed me to strengthen my skills and networks, and get a head-start on my career.”

The Sir Alexander Johnstone Scholarship in Law was established through a gift from the estate of Sir Alexander Johnstone QC. Sir Alexander was for many years a member of the University of Auckland Council and its Vice-President, as well as Vice-President of the New Zealand Law Society. He dedicated his life to legal scholarship and his final gesture to education came in his will in which he left the residue of his estate for scholarships for students of law.