Supporting our Science students

Established in 2010, the Faculty of Science Student Support Awards are made possible by the Science Student Support Fund.

Psychology student Donny Morar sitting beside her son Jayden.
Psychology student Donny Morar and her son Jayden.

The main purpose of the Awards is to ensure a greater number of talented and deserving students who are experiencing financial hardship have the opportunity to fulfil their academic goals of undergraduate or postgraduate study. In 2017 the awards were updated to allow a greater number of students to benefit from this support.

DONNY MORAR was one of the students who received an award from the Science Student Support Fund this year.

Donny has just completed her Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology, and she has applied to the 2019 Psychology honours programme. When she completes her honours degree, she hopes to be accepted onto the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, with a view to becoming a registered child and adolescent psychologist.

In her pre-student life, Donny worked full-time at Child Youth and Family [now Oranga Tamariki]. She wanted to do more to help children but felt that by remaining in full-time work, the only pathway available to her was to become a social worker, which she didn’t want to do. So she decided to leave her job and enrol in Psychology at University.

“Working as a child and adolescent psychologist seems to be the best way to try to break some of the unhealthy cycles that we see so often at CYF – I want to make a real difference to children’s lives.”

Working as a child and adolescent psychologist seems to be the best way to try to break some of the unhealthy cycles that we see so often at CYF – I want to make a real difference to children’s lives.

Donny Morar BSc Psychology student

As a solo mum, Donny was delighted to learn that she was eligible to apply to the Science Student Support Fund. Winning an award means she can continue her studies without worrying about how she is going to afford the costs associated with postgraduate study.

“I’ve been able to purchase a new laptop to help me with my studies and future research projects, and I’ll be able to afford the textbooks needed for my honours year. The award means that I can get a few repairs done on my car so I’m able to transport my son to his after-school activities.”

Donny was also able to get a food parcel from AUSA (Auckland University Students’ Association) when she was really struggling last year. She has this advice to give other students who may be facing hardship:

“Don’t give up, and don’t let anxiety take over. There is help available, and even if you’re too shy to ask for help, there is information online. Focusing on the big picture also helps, as hard times are usually only temporary.

“Think positive, and look after yourself so you can do the best you can in your studies.”

KENT ONESEMO also received an award from the Fund. Kent has been working for the Forensic division of the Samoan Police since 2012, and last year received a scholarship from the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID) to study for his masters in Forensic Science.

He chose to come to the University of Auckland because he can study in conjunction with the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), the organisation responsible for the forensic work of the New Zealand Police.

Forensic Science student Kent Onesemo
Forensic Science student Kent Onesemo

“Back home in Samoa I’m mainly a field officer, but studying for my masters here in New Zealand allows me to observe and experience first-hand how forensic analysis is completed in the laboratory setting.”

Kent says that one of the best things about his programme is learning the different techniques that can be applied to yield the best results from his samples of CBD (a compound with medicinal value found in cannabis plants). “Part of my thesis is looking at ways of determining the origin of cultivated cannabis plants using elemental profiles and stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes.”

Ultimately, Kent hopes to increase the use and reliability of forensic evidence in Samoan courtrooms. He also wants to teach forensics to inspire young peopleto pursue it as a career. “In Samoa there is a misconception that being a doctor is the only career outcome if you take science subjects like biology and chemistry. I’d love to change that conception.”

Part of my thesis is looking at ways of determining the origin of cultivated cannabis plants using elemental profiles and stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes.

Kent Onesemo MSc Forensic Science student

The award Kent received from the Science Student Support Fund has really helped him with the financial struggles he has experienced as a result of living in Auckland.

“The award means I’ve been able to afford my living costs, as well as being able to support my family back home in Samoa. There have also been other costs associated with my thesis, such as printing and binding, which the award will greatly help me with when it is time for submission.”

As an international student, Kent is quick to point out the variety of assistance and support groups who are dedicated to helping students achieve their academic goals. “There are some difficulties for international students, such as language barriers and culture shock, which can really affect your ability to stay focused. The best advice I can give is to always ask for help.”

Helping us to help our students

In the two rounds of funding available in 2018 (February and July), the Faculty of Science has been able to help 13 students. With over 80 students applying to the Science Student Support Fund each year, we'd love to be able to help more and more students. But we need your support to make this a reality. Gifts from our alumni, no matter what size, make a tangible difference to Science students.

For more information contact the Faculty of Science Development Manager,
Kiri-Ann Olney:

Phone: +64 9 923 4736
Email: k.olney@auckland.ac.nz

You can also visit the Science Student Support Fund website to make a donation.

Aerial image of the Science Centre

inSCight 2018

This article appears in the 2018 edition of inSCight, the print magazine for Faculty of Science alumni.

View more articles from inSCight