Sam Fellows reckons he wouldn’t be where he is today without the University of Waikato.
The Bachelor of Law and Master of Sport and Leisure Studies alumnus received several scholarships during his studies at Waikato, which he credits with helping him fast-track into his dream career as a lawyer and a variety of volunteer roles.
When Sam was in his final years at Otumoetai College in Tauranga, he started thinking about tertiary study. He was interested in law and sports, and reached out to several universities to see if such a degree combination was possible. In the end, only the University of Waikato was able to cater to Sam’s interests.
“That was the start of a really positive relationship with the University,” says Sam.
Sam received a school leaver scholarship, which helped fund some of his accommodation fees at Bryant Hall, and half way through his first year he received a DV Bryant Residential Trust Scholarship, also credited to accommodation fees.
With living costs sorted, Sam says he found his footing at university easily and from there, his confidence grew. He applied for, and won, several other scholarships throughout the remainder of his studies.
With scholarship support Sam was able to reduce his part-time work at a local supermarket and focus on achieving in his studies and contributing to his community.
“A huge financial burden had been lifted, and because of that I could get right into campus life. I refereed rugby, tutored classes, worked as a student ambassador, and joined a few community boards.
“Over time as I got out there and more involved, I grabbed hold of all the opportunities I could.”
After graduating in 2012, Sam spent three years working in corporate law for Simpson Grierson in Auckland, before returning to Tauranga with his young family and to a solicitor role at law firm Holland Beckett. He was then seconded to Tauranga City Council part-time before taking on the role as in-house solicitor. He moved to managing the environmental regulation team, and is now completing a one-year secondment managing the sustainability and waste team.
Sam credits the University of Waikato and the support he received throughout his study with helping him focus on the big picture and helping others.
“I was the first in my family to go to university and I see education as a massive privilege, one I am very thankful for,” he says.
“I believe the experiences and opportunities I had at university have directly contributed to where I am now. I always felt supported and like someone believed in me, and now I do my best to inspire that in others.”
Outside of work, Sam continues to referee rugby and contributes to several trusts and community groups, including Bay of Plenty Rugby Union, and Momenta Charitable Trust which helps disadvantaged people overcome barriers to inclusion in the Bay of Plenty region.
Donors encourage support for scholarships
The DV Bryant Trust is one of the region’s longest-running philanthropic trusts and was instrumental in the formation of the University, including building Bryant Hall residence in 1971. In 2003 the Trust established residential scholarships for school-leavers starting full-time undergraduate study at the University of Waikato.
DV Bryant Trust chief executive Raewyn Kirkman says the Trust is proud to maintain strong links with the University and to help students such as Sam on a pathway to success.
“Having been involved in on-campus living for 50 years, we know how it can benefit students coming to the University to study. We also know that the cost of this can be a financial burden for many families and helping remove this barrier enables the student to focus on their study. When the student succeeds, we feel like we have played a small part in that success.
“Please join us in supporting scholarships at the University of Waikato so we can help more students like Sam get on their way to making a difference in the world.”
For more information and to make a donation, click here.