Empowering educational journeys: New migrant and refugee fees award

A group of migrant and refugee students have been named as the inaugural recipients of the University of Waikato and Hamilton Multicultural Services (HMS) Trust Award for 2024.

18 Mar 2024

Sabirin Abdullahi is one of four students who received the Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust Award for 2024.

Sabirin Abdullahi, Khadija Alaboud, Farida Najafi and Seksovanneat Oeung have each received up to $8,000 towards their tuition fees and course materials.

The award aims to improve the economic and social wellbeing of the migrant and former refugee community in Hamilton and the Waikato and helps HMS Trust clients obtain a degree from the University of Waikato.

Sabirin Abdull, a third-year Bachelor of Nursing student, says the award allows her to advance her education and strive towards her dream career as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

“I poured my heart into my application, and I was so happy to be selected. Coming from a one-parent household with a large student loan, I was genuinely surprised it was me,” Sabirin says.

Originally from Somalia, Sabirin moved to New Zealand from Kenya with her family when she was one year old, in search of a better life, education and environment.

“Somalia is a war-torn country; my mother relocated from Somalia to Kenya and eventually to New Zealand in search of better opportunities for her children.

“Receiving this award and taking such a leap of faith demonstrates that her efforts were worthwhile. I will always be grateful for her love, which motivates me to aim higher each day.”

Sabirin spent a lot of her childhood at HMS Trust, saying it was the place where she learnt how to drive.

HMS Trust, Executive Chairperson, Claire van der Most says education empowers people. It sets them up for careers and an ability to better support their families and communities.

HMS Trust, Executive Chairperson, Claire van der Most.

“This award is a real stepping stone in achieving a qualification and then heading out into the world to do great things,” Claire says.

“It’s a step towards empowering them to achieve their lifelong ambitions. They’ll be well-equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for success. It means so much to them as individuals and for their families too.”

Students who applied for the award detailed their aspirations for pursuing a degree at Waikato, their active involvement in the Waikato region, and their connection with HMS Trust.

“This is such an exciting opportunity for the award recipients,” says Claire. “They are all very deserving winners, and HMS Trust is proud to support them achieve their education goals and go on to do great things.”

The partnership, which started in late 2022, stemmed from discussions with Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley, Emeritus Professor Asad Mohsin, who is also an HMS Trust Board Member, HMS Trust Community Development Partner Ellie Wilkinson and Claire.

Based at the Settlement Centre Waikato on Claudelands Park, the Trust works with around 800 clients each year, providing a wide range of services and programmes for migrants and former refugees.

To be eligible for the Awards, applicants must be current clients of HMS Trust living in the Waikato region, be actively contributing to the Waikato community, and be enrolled in part or full-time study in a degree programme at the University in the year of the Award.

Preference will be given to first-time applicants, those with strong academic achievement or potential, and those with financial need. The intention is to award it to different students each year, and applicants can reapply for subsequent years.