School leaver scholarship, DV Bryant Residential Trust scholarship
Ngai Tahu, Kai Tahu
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.
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.