Student's dream a step closer after staff generosity
1 March 2021
An uplifting highlight from the challenges of 2020 was the generosity of staff and former staff. They donated more than they’ve ever given before.
Funding from University of Auckland staff, former staff and alumni in 2020 is helping struggling students, supporting research projects and has also enabled new scholarships and fellowships, with some inaugural recipients already named.
One student to benefit from the generosity was Tatiana Faaiu who, in Semester One 2021, takes her first steps towards becoming a doctor.
Tatiana, who went to school at Mt Albert Grammar, is the recipient of a University of Auckland hardship scholarship, which she says gave her the hand up she needed.
Growing up, she thought her financial situation would prevent her from ever embarking on tertiary study.
Tatiana, of Samoan descent, says her admittance into the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programme overwhelmed her with a “mixture of emotions”.
Tatiana is now one step closer to making a positive difference in marginalised communities, who currently face disparities in both healthcare and health outcomes.
“Evidence has shown that Pacific people have significantly poorer health outcomes,” she says. “By providing healthcare in a culturally respectful and responsive way, I’m convinced that some of the present discrepancies can be improved on. The more Pacific voices there are in this arena, the better outcomes I believe there will be for my Pacific brothers and sisters.”
The more Pacific voices there are in this arena, the better outcomes I believe there will be for my Pacific brothers and sisters.
Nearly 200 staff and former staff members gave $37,680 to the Annual Appeal 2020, which goes towards providing hardship scholarships. These scholarships support students who may not have been able to attend university due to financial constraints.
“There aren’t enough words to express how appreciative I am and how much this support has affected my life in such a positive way,” says Tatiana.
“The money went into resources that directly support my studies and it took a significant financial burden off me and my family. It gave me independence and means I’m free to focus on my studies.”
Overall in 2020, the total number of gifts from staff and former staff was 1,491, up from 992 gifts in 2019.
“The generosity shown by our staff has been extraordinary,” says Director of Alumni Relations and Development, Mark Bentley.
“Everyone was having to deal with enormous change and challenges, in all aspects of life, yet we had staff and alumni asking, ‘What can I do to help?’ and especially ‘How can I support our students?’
“Many of our students were having a tough time because of lockdown and the loss of income from part-time work. We were keen to offer as much help as we could to keep them in their studies and support their well-being,” says Mark.
Most of the gifts were given to specific funds. Among those that attracted the largest number of staff donations were student support, faculty-specific student support, immune therapy research, postgraduate support, Staff for Students: the Well-being Fund, refugee scholarships and Māori and Pacific scholarships.
The generosity shown by our staff has been extraordinary. Everyone was having to deal with enormous change and challenges ... yet we had staff and alumni asking, ‘What can I do to help?’.
One of the new scholarships announced in 2020 was the David M Emanuel Research Scholarship in Accounting and Finance, established to mark David’s substantial contribution to the University and his students over a career that spanned 46 years. Donations to this fund from staff and alumni continued through 2020 and will support grants of up to $5,000 annually. In September the inaugural recipient was named as Jonathan Manickam, a first-generation immigrant who is being supported through his honours dissertation.
In August 2020, a major donation for research in History was announced, $500,000 from senior lecturer Dr Felicity Barnes and husband Michael Whitehead, to set up the History Innovation Fund. Two postdoctoral fellows have since been recruited for 2021. Dr Violeta Gilabert will start at the University this month, and Matthew Birchall, who is completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge, is due to start in July.
Another example of extraordinary generosity in 2020 was the $5 million legacy gift to Law from the late Professor Brian Coote. The Professor Brian Coote Memorial Scholarship has been established to enable postgraduate study in law and is expected to be open to both domestic and international applicants this month.
Tatiana says the financial backing she has received is also a big morale lift.
“It’s a tremendous confidence boost to know that people who don’t even know me would invest in my future … I will do my best to make their investment worthwhile.”
Briar Hubbard and Helen Borne
This story first appear in the March 2021 edition of UniNews.