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Pacific student becomes University’s first Toloa scholar

13 March 2020

Anunson Ott
Engineering student Anunson Ott has received a Toloa Tertiary Scholarship from the Ministry of Pacific Peoples.

A University of Waikato Engineering student is one of 13 Pacific Island students to receive a Toloa Tertiary Scholarship, designed to encourage more Pacific Island students into the fields of science and technology.

Anunson Ott, who is in his second year of a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours majoring in civil engineering, is the first ever University of Waikato student to receive the scholarship which will assist him with fees and tuition as he completes his four-year degree.

“It’s a real honour to receive the scholarship and it’s such a big help for Pacific Island students. Many Pacific Island students struggle to fund their tertiary study. This scholarship can help to take some of the pressure off.”

Anunson, who is from Samoa, completed his first year of study with the help of a partial scholarship from the Government of Samoa and the support of his brother and extended family. But he says he was extremely lucky to be in that position as many Pacific Island students faced working alongside their study to fund their degrees.

“It can be extremely hard to try and work and keep up your grades. I’d like to let other students know there is this scholarship available and that they should go for it.”

The Toloa Programme is funded by the New Zealand Government and the award recipients were announced by the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, late last month.

The programme is designed to encourage more Pacific people to embrace science, technology math and engineering (STEM) career pathways. Currently only two per cent of the Pacific workforce are involved in STEM careers and the Toloa Scholarship is designed to demystify STEM subjects, increasing interest and participation.

“The Toloa Tertiary Scholarship winners represent some of the best Pacific talent, studying some of the world’s most advanced sciences and technologies and they are our new intake of Pacific innovators, creators, designers and explorers,” says Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio.

“New technologies are transforming the way we live and do business, and I’m keen to encourage more Pacific graduates towards playing a bigger role in the Pacific region so that they can play their part in tackling the global challenges of climate change; a real and ominous threat to our Pacific home countries and communities,” he said.

Anunson says he chose the University of Waikato because of the friendly atmosphere, the strong and supportive Pacific Island community on campus and the reputation of the Bachelor of Engineering degree.

His long-term goal is to eventually help build roads and infrastructure in remote regions.

“I’d like to help better connect remote communities and open-up opportunities for them through engineering,” says Anunson.


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