Originally planning to go to university closer to home in the North Island, the 17-year-old first year health science student re-evaluated her choices after a meeting with an Otago representative and discussions with a few teachers who had attended Otago.

“They made me realise what an opportunity I would be missing out on,” says Rebecca, who earned the University of Otago Mori and Pacific Peoples Scholarship and the Dux Scholarship, together valued at $13,000.

“When I applied for the scholarships, I didn’t expect to receive them but the financial support of the scholarships has made such a difference.

“It means I could stay in residential college, which is an important security for my family and one less thing for me to worry about so I can focus on my studies.”

Rebecca is living in Te Rangi Hiroa College, one of 15 residential colleges on or near Otago’s Dunedin campus, each offering support and care in its own style. Most also offer tutorials, sport and social activities.

“Te Rangi is a quieter college. I love to hang out in the common room and taking part in the social sports – there is always something to do and Te Rangi is always looking out for its residents.”

Relocating from the North Island to Dunedin has meant a host of changes and new experiences for Rebecca but she says the university and community have been supportive at every turn.

“I think that Otago has shocked me and impressed me. The passion that every lecturer possesses for their job and their passion for us to do well is amazing.

“It inspires me to find a profession that isn’t just an income but is something much more than that.”

“I love Dunedin. It’s got the feel of a big city but still quaint enough to feel safe. I am glad that I left the nest 1380.5 kilometres away.”

Hoping to study dentistry or medicine, Rebecca says the University of Otago has already helped her to dream big and set ambitious goals for the future.

“I hope to become the greatest doctor or dentist I can be and to travel overseas to less fortunate countries and serve others,” she says.

“That is the big picture though … for now it’s baby steps and focus on my first year studies.”

Source: Bay of Plenty Times

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