Bus service a pathway to excellence for Thames student

A subsidised daily bus service makes commuting and study possible for Thames student Davina Stone, a participant on the University of Waikato’s Te Ara ki Angitū: Pathways to Excellence programme.

As a Thames High School student considering her university options, Davina Stone stumbled across the University of Waikato’s Te Ara ki Angitū Scholarship. The scholarship is part of the wider Te Ara ki Angitū: Pathways to Excellence programme, which encourages greater access to tertiary study for students living in regional areas in the form of subsidised bus services, access to portable learning devices, and mentoring and support while at university. Realising she would be a good fit for the programme, and with her mother’s encouragement, Davina enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts. and was lucky enough to be awarded a Te Ara ki Angitū scholarship.

“I liked that the scholarship application took into consideration my community involvement as well as things like financial need and academic achievement. The scholarship has covered most of my first semester fees.”

As a Te Ara ki Angitū programme participant, and with additional sponsorship support, Davina was also able to get a Chromebook computer to help her with study and assignments.

Subsidised transport plays a big part in making education accessible to Te Ara ki Angitū students, with the University of Waikato offering heavily subsidised, daily bus services for students living in outlying areas of the Waikato region. Davina travels between her home in Thames and the University’s Hamilton campus every day on the dedicated route.

“It’s pretty convenient and I really appreciate being able to stay at home, both for the cost-saving and coming home at the end of my university day to my family and cat.”

Initially nervous about starting university, Davina has been pleasantly surprised by how laidback and friendly everyone is. She frequents the whānau room, a shared study and communal area for Te Ara ki Angitū students, saying everyone gets along really well and she feels a real sense of community and friendship both with students and staff.

“The lecturers are friendly and I’ve formed good relationships with them. I’ve also had great support from Student Services when I’ve been stuck or lost.”

In fact, Davina has had such a positive experience she’s recommending the University of Waikato to her younger sister, as well as her friends who are involved in schooling by correspondence and never thought university was an option because of the distance. “With programmes like Te Ara ki Angitū and the bus service, it’s definitely achievable, so I hope people doing correspondence realise they’re able to come to the University as well.”

The University of Waikato’s Te Ara ki Angitū: Pathways to Excellence programme was established in 2016 in South Waikato and expanded to other regions in 2017. The programme now reaches 25 schools and communities across Hauraki, Thames-Coromandel, Matamata-Piako, Waikato, Otorohonga, South Waikato and Waitomo districts. Applications for 2018 are now open.