Toloa Scholarship opens doors to growth and learning

posted: 12:00 pm - 19th January 2018
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No matter what you do or where you go, “What do you want to do when you graduate?” seems to be the golden question according to Toloa Scholarship recipient Lupesina Koro (pictured).

If she is completely honest about it, the 18-year-old of Samoan and Tokelauan descent, who is studying towards conjoint degrees in Commerce and Engineering at the University of Auckland, says her answer to that question is continuously changing.

“At the moment, in terms of Engineering, I am interested in studying Engineering Science at even higher levels of education and perhaps moving into research as brown faces in this industry are few and far in between,” Lupesina adds.

Lupesina was one of eight Toloa Scholarship recipients in 2017, has decided to specialise in Engineering Science for her Bachelor of Engineering degree and Accounting for the Bachelor of Commerce degree.

The Toloa Programme, facilitated and supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) encourages Pacific students to pursue studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, with the aim of increasing the number of Pasifika employed in STEM careers. 

To reach key Pacific audiences simultaneously, the Toloa Programme delivers to three key strands including Toloa Tertiary Scholarships, for Pacific scholars pursuing STEM subjects; Toloa Kenese Club for Post Primary Pacific students to increase awareness and influence students into STEM study options early on; and the Toloa Community Fund for Community Groups promoting and delivering STEM activities to various influential Pacific groups.

The former Head Girl at Ponsonby’s St Mary’s College says her Toloa Scholarship has helped her tremendously during her first year of tertiary study in 2017. 

“It is a truly surreal feeling to be able to study without the pressures of building up a high student loan.

“I feel incredibly blessed to study what I love without the financial burden of tuition fees looming over my head so fa'afetai lava,” she says.

Lupesina’s first year of university was difficult in terms of adjusting to the workload and juggling academia with extra-curricular activities, but she got involved in the Tuakana mentoring programmes for both Commerce and Engineering to ease her transition.

“The Tuakana programmes really helped me to manage my course work in managing course work,” she says.

Receiving a Toloa Scholarship has provided Lupesina the opportunity to be loan-free upon graduating university and it has enabled her time at university to be one of growth and learning without worrying about financial pressures. 

“If you have the opportunity to apply for such a prestigious scholarship, if you have worked tirelessly in your academics and if you are motivated to make a difference in Pacific communities, the real question is ‘why not?’.  

“People should apply for this scholarship because it recognises the work they have, they are and will continue to put into the betterment of Pacific peoples.”  

The 2018 applicants for Toloa Scholarships are currently being evaluated as part of the selection process and will be informed of the outcome at the end of January, ahead of an awards ceremony in late February (Date TBC).

Visit HERE for more information on the Toloa Programme.