'Education is the most important thing anyone can have'

Three students’ lives have been changed by philanthropists and alumni David and Dian Ross.

The couple donated to the University to establish the David and Dian Ross Undergraduate Scholarship, enabling three school-leavers each year who have the potential to thrive in their studies but may not otherwise be able to attend University, to study a Bachelor of Arts (BA) conjoint degree.

A conjoint degree allows students to pursue two undergraduate degrees at the same time to build a breadth of skills and knowledge. The first recipients started this year: Molly Davidson (Bachelor of Science and BA in Politics), Annaliese Duke (Bachelor of Fine Arts and BA in Media, Film & TV), and Natalie Lau (Bachelor of Engineering and BA in Asian Studies).

David and Dian recently met the students in person, exchanging stories of their study journeys and discussing the impact education can have.

From left to right: Dian Ross, David Ross, Molly Davidson, Natalie Lau and Annaliese Duke.

The couple both studied Commerce at Auckland and wanted to give something back to the city.

“Dian and I were talking about what we could do, and this scholarship was a fantastic idea that encapsulated everything around giving people the best start in life,” says David. “The chance to make their own opportunities and follow their drive and wish to learn.”

David’s father couldn’t afford to go to university, having to start work immediately after finishing school. “He went to night school and became successful, but he always regretted not being able to attend properly.”

Dian recalls her own university experience and how the world has changed. After graduating she remembers going from door to door on Queen Street speaking to businesses, but no one wanted a woman accountant.

“Women were very classified then. The expectation was you’d get married, have kids and that was it, but I needed to be in command of my own life and voice through education. Education is the most important thing anyone can have." 

Be conscientious, got to strive for it, study hard and things do happen. Doors
open where you don’t expect them, and you go for it. I’ve seen the world change; women can do anything they want now.”  

Dian Ross

The three students were delighted to meet the donors.

“Before today I only knew the name of the people who have changed my life,” Molly says. “Now I can put a face to that and meet you and tell you that I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it wasn’t for you.”

For Natalie, the scholarship has enabled her to connect with her own history. “The scholarship has allowed me to pursue Asian Studies, to learn about my culture and what it means to me.”

Annaliese chatted to the couple about their interest in the arts and her ambitions in the film industry. “Your generosity has made it plausible to pursue my passions. I love my studies – I’m already learning so much about the world and putting everything into perspective.”

Find out more about the David and Dian Ross Undergraduate Scholarship

To find out more about supporting the Faculty of Arts contact Anne Liddle