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Massey staff create bursary to assist students in need

Promising Student Assistance Bursary recipients Samantha-Jo Toohill and Bronwyn Bruce-Brand with Massey Business School Dean Professor Ted Zorn, at the first of the Academic Excellence Awards events in Auckland.

When the Massey Business School asked its staff to support the University’s direct-from-salary giving programme, it allowed staff to decide how their donations would be spent. They voted overwhemingly to use the money to support students facing financial hardship.

This month the first recipients of the Massey Business School Promising Students Assistance Bursary are being recognised at the school’s annual Academic Excellence Awards. A total of $15,000 will be awarded to ten students to cover course-related costs like textbooks and travel expenses, or to assist with general living costs.

“Many of the students have made direct contact to tell us about the real difference these funds will make as they continue on their educational pathway,” says Associate Professor Elizabeth Gray who heads the school’s Development Fund Advisory Group.

“We know everyone faces challenges juggling study and life, but some people face more challenges than others. While study is not always easy to finance, it can be life changing, so we wanted to offer something different to other scholarships, which are generally tied exclusively to academic prowess.”

For sport management student Samantha-Jo Toohill, the bursary means food, textbooks and petrol for getting to class.

"I found a sense of pride in my situation"

Sport management student Samantha-Jo Toohill says the bursary has made the difference between being able to afford petrol and missing classes. The single mother says she realised furthering her education was the key to a better future for herself and her two daughters.

“The bursary didn’t just affect my life by assisting financially, there were intrinsic benefits too,” she says. “I found a sense of pride in my situation and a boost in my confidence. It’s definitely reflected at home with my kids. I feel more capable knowing there are people out there who want me to do well.”

Similarly, communication student Leilani Baker credits the bursary with assisting her to be financially independent.

“My dad actually has a mental illness so it means he can’t work strenuously and that puts a lot of financial strain on my mum who is a school teacher,” she says. “The bursary is going to make a huge difference to me because I already have two part-time jobs…when I left home I kind of made the decision that I wanted to support myself.”

Pasifika student Leilani Baker says the bursary has allowed her to be financially independent.

Small actions, big impact

Master of Economics student Bronwyn Bruce-Brand will use her bursary for something quite different – an overseas exchange at the University of Copenhagen.

“The bursary grant is hugely helpful –  as most people would expect going overseas is pretty pricey and doing an exchange is no exception,” she says.

“It’s incredibly humbling to know that the staff have directly contributed from their salaries to make this bursary possible. Without this bursary it would pretty much be impossible to go overseas and do an exchange like this, and it’s such a good experience for me.”

Massey Business School Dean Professor Ted Zorn hopes the fund will grow steadily in 2017 as staff see the impact the bursary is having in just its first year.

“I am proud at how the staff in the Massey Business School have chosen to use the funds they have donated and, without their generosity, many promising students would not reach their potential,” he says.

“It is my hope that, in future years, we can support a larger number of students and, in some cases, offer larger amounts of money. These bursaries are a perfect example of how small actions can have a big impact.”

To help grow the fund, both the University and the Massey Business School have committed to matching staff donations dollar-for dollar.

Master of Economics student Bronwyn Bruce-Brand's bursary is helping her to do an exchange at Copenhagen University.

Full list of bursary winners for 2017

  • School of Aviation: Krishneel Naicker  
  • School of Accountancy: Chen Ziyang  
  • School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing: Boyd Mower
  • School of Economics and Finance: David Bennison  
  • School of Management: Samantha Toohill
  • Māori student award: Kodyn Brown  
  • Pasifika student award: Leilani Baker  

Additional bursaries were awarded to:

  • Lee-Ann Cordeaux (Management)  
  • Bronwyn Bruce-Brand (Economics and Finance)
  • Adrienne Sheridan (Communication, Journalism, and Marketing)