Dullabh Education Scholars keen to ‘pay it forward’

Three scholarship recipients tell their stories of hope and inspiration when they meet their supporter in Auckland.

(From left to right:) Karen Kam, Arvind Dullabh and James Kaleti
(From left to right:) Karen Kam, Arvind Dullabh and James Kaleti

It’s not every day that a scholarship recipient gets to meet the person behind a generous financial support that could make such a difference during a time of hardship, especially when trying to balance the demands of work and study.

At a recent get-together in Auckland, three education students - James Kaleti, Karen Kam and Brandee Thorburn - had the chance to say thank you to an alumnus of the University of Auckland for the Dullabh Education Scholarship granted to them this year.

The Dullabh Education Award was established in 2016 and is funded by Arvind Dullabh, a retired Auckland secondary school teacher, inspired by his father who was a strong advocate for education and throughout his life helped many children in India to gain an education.

“I hope you do well in your studies and your work. You are very lucky to be working in the field of education as you have a chance to make a real impact on young people’s lives,” was Arvind’s advice to the scholars.

His words had not gone unheeded.

You are very lucky to be working in the field of education as you have a chance to make a real impact on young people’s lives.

Arvind Dullabh Dullabh Education Scholarship supporter

James, who is in his third year of the BEd (Teaching) Primary, has just secured a teaching role for next year at Holy Cross in Papatoetoe.

“These funds put me in a better position to study, spend time supporting my children at their weekend sport, attend church with my family and volunteer by helping young drivers to get their licence. Being able balance study, work and life, is my idea of real success,” says James when reflecting on this invaluable support.

Karen has taken a year out from primary teaching to complete a Master of Education Practice. Having been a teacher for three years, she has been able to continue with some relief teaching at Remuera Primary School but this award has allowed her to concentrate more of her time towards her studies.

One of Karen’s extra-curricular activities involves leading dance classes for her senior students in both hip hop and ballet. Karen has particularly enjoyed the ‘Social Psychology of the Classroom’ course and is looking forward taking some new ideas and teaching approaches back to her classroom and sharing them with her colleagues.

“What an absolute inspiration Arvind and his family are. He really made me think about how I could use this opportunity to equip myself to ‘pay it forward’ one day. I will definitely be thinking about how I can ‘give back’,” Karen says.

Brandee Thorburn with Arvind Dullabh
Brandee Thorburn (left) with Arvind Dullabh

Brandee Thorburn, who is completing a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary), says, “I have been training to teach Social Studies, Media Studies, and Education for Sustainability, which I believe is a vital subject area that I hope more secondary schools will offer in future. I have recently secured a role teaching Psychology and am looking forward to starting next year.

“It was such a heart-warming surprise to receive this award and I am incredibly grateful for this generosity and kindness. As the first person in my family to attend university, my parents are also very proud of me and appreciative of this support.”

The Dullabh Education Scholarship was created when Avin’s father, who grew up in small village in Gujarat, India was left a legacy from Arvind’s grandfather for his high school education, a rare opportunity in a rural village. Arvind understands the value of a good education, having inherited a love of learning from his father. He completed a Bachelor of Science in India, then a Diploma of Secondary Teaching at the Auckland College of Education in 1989 and a Diploma of Technology Education in 2000.

“My philosophy of giving comes from my father,” Arvind Dullabh says. “I think people should give whole-heartedly. Every time you give to a person, you bless them at the same time and hope that they will be more successful than you have been in your life.

"I hope that this Award will inspire others to give back to the community too, whether that’s through donations or through volunteer work."