30 years of scholarships from academic gown trust


(from left) Anne Walker, Chair Graduate Women Manawatu Charitable Trust Inc; Jessica Mounter; Leola Murphy; Dr Sita Venkateswar (President Graduate Women Manawatū); Lauren McInnes; Sarah Wright; Dr Charlotte Severne (Massey University guest speaker); Katherine Murray; Shelley Ogle; Chrystal O’Connor; Tessa Ma’auga.


Cancer therapies, volunteering, plant biology and sustainable development are among the diverse topics being undertaken by Massey University post-doctoral researchers awarded scholarships by the Graduate Women Manawatū Charitable Trust this year.

The weekend award ceremony marked the 30-year anniversary since the inception of the post-graduate awards, during which more than 240 awards have been presented, totalling $1 million. This year, ten post-graduate Massey University women students were awarded scholarships totalling $73,500.

The students, their families and supporters attended a celebratory lunch held at Wharerata at the Manawatū campus along with members of Graduate Women Manawatū and guests. Assistant Vice-Chancellor, Maori and Pasifika, Dr Charlotte Severne was guest speaker, and Dr Bernadette Devonport, President of Graduate Women New Zealand, was also present to congratulate the awardees.

All recipients are studying towards Master’s or Honours degrees in their chosen disciplines at the Manawatū campus or through distance.

Funding for the scholarships, which acknowledge academic merit, is derived from the hire of academic regalia. Graduate Women Manawatū Charitable Trust owns and operates the Academic Dress Hire business based on the University’s Manawatū campus. It supplies academic gowns for annual graduation ceremonies at Massey University, and other tertiary institutions throughout the lower North Island. As a charitable entity all profit from the business is reinvested in education, through provision of scholarships and awards for women.

The 2017 Awardees are:

Melanie Desmarais (College of Health: School of Social Work, studying for a Master of Applied Social Work)

Melanie’s research explores the ways in which volunteering negatively or positively affects women aged 60+ years and their wellbeing. She hopes to get a sense of how older women can be treated more inclusively by organisations to enhance their wellbeing, as well as explore what some of the barriers to inclusion may be. This research will add to the scarce body of research in this area (particularly in the New Zealand context) and highlight the stories and experiences of older, female volunteers, and how they feel about their unpaid work.

Tessa Ma’auga (College of Creative Arts, studying for a Post Graduate Diploma of Māori Visual Arts)

Tessa is continuing her study through the Māori Visual Arts programme at Massey University to explore further the area of cross-cultural artistic collaboration. She hopes her research can generate insights into the conditions that enable diverse artists to work in higher degrees of unity.

Lauren McInnes (College of Health: School of Biomedical Sciences, studying for a Master of Science)

Lauren is researching the changes in cancerous cells that facilitate their migration in metastasis. She will explore the therapeutic potential if mechanisms of nuclear organisation can be exploited and targeted. She hopes to identify potential targets for future therapies by exploring the change in protein composition at the nuclear periphery of invasive cancer cells.

Jessica Mounter (College of Health: School of Social Work, studying for a Master of Public Health)

Jessica is completing a Master of Public Health and is interested in how children and young people, who are with both Care and Protection and Mental Health Services, can be supported to experience positive outcomes. She is planning to interview social workers on their perspective of this question.

Leola Murphy (College of Humanities and Social Sciences: School of Psychology, studying for a Bachelor of Arts (Hons))

Leola is completing a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree majoring in Psychology. Her research interests are in the field of Feminist Psychology and women’s experience of mental illness. Her research project entitled “Women blogging about Depression” focuses on the cultural, etiological narratives of depression and women’s telling of ‘what caused’ their experiences of depression.

Katherine Murray (College of Sciences: Institute of Fundamental Sciences, studying for a Master of Science)

Katherine is completing a Master of Science in plant biology. She is researching a native New Zealand orchid, Corybas cryptanthus, which is the only member of its genus to have abandoned photosynthesis in favour of seeking carbohydrates from a fungus associated with its roots. Katherine is also researching the patterns of gene loss and retention in Corybas cryptanthus and other related orchid species.

Chrystal O’Connor (College of Sciences: Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, studying for a Master of Science)

Chrystal is studying extramurally and completing her Master of Science thesis at AgResearch Ruakura (Hamilton). She is interested in how milk products can be advanced to benefit human consumption, and is investigating how the protein ‘matrix’ (different types of milk, such as skim milk, whey protein concentrate) affects the digestion of milk bioactives.

Shelley Ogle (College of Sciences: Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, studying for a Master of Science)

Shelley’s fieldwork was with the kororā (little penguin) chicks at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. She is researching how their stress response develops with age and how handling from a young age can affect this. This work can aid conservation of the species as well as gain a better understanding of these birds.

Loren Rutherford (College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Institute of People, Environment and Planning, studying for a Master of International Development)

Loren’s research explores how the cruise industry in Vanuatu affects and impacts sustainable development in communities. Cruise tourism is the fastest growing sector of tourism globally and is set to develop enormously in the Pacific region. She is currently conducting fieldwork in Vanuatu.

Sarah Wright (College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Institute of Education, studying toward a Master of Counselling Studies)

Sarah is completing a qualitative research project, which explores counselling experiences of clients and their families at the end of life.

Awardees who were unable to attend the ceremony were Loren Rutherford and Melanie Desmarais.

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