Toloa Tertiary Scholarship recipient Ema Tuakoi (pictured) says the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) initiative is helping to close the gap between Pasifika and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).
“The programme not only believes in us, but it trusts in our abilities within our studies and provides the means, whether financial or otherwise, to complete the journey that we are on,” Ema says.
Born and raised in Otara, Ema has Tongan (Ma’ufanga, Holonga Tongatapu) and Māori (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Maru - Hauraki, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) roots.
The 21-year-old is currently in her last year of studying a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Psychology, at Waipapa Taumata Rau - the University of Auckland, and hopes to complete postgraduate studies through a BSc (Hons) in Preparatory Clinical Psychology.
“My career aspirations include becoming a clinical psychologist, working with Māori and Pasifika rangatahi,” she says.
Ema successfully applied for a 2022 Toloa Tertiary Scholarship due to the financial strains of studying full-time.
Toloa Tertiary Scholarships aim to support Pacific students to pursue STEAM subjects and cover tertiary tuition fees and compulsory course related fees up to $10,000 for one year of fulltime study.
“I am so privileged that studying is even an option for me, as many of our Pasifika people aren’t afforded the same luxury.
“Aside from easing my mind when it comes to fees and student loans, the Toloa Scholarship has connected me with the wider cohort of tertiary recipients within Waipapa Taumata Rau, which has provided so much insight into fields within STEAM I might otherwise not have considered.”
There is most certainly a need for more Pacific people in STEAM, and initiatives such as the Toloa Fund are helping to achieve this outcome, Ema adds.
“Pasifika are natural-born leaders, orators, navigators and researchers and the values intrinsically tied to our cultures and who we are, provide invaluable contributions to STEAM fields and higher education in general.”
Last year, 50 students received scholarships up to $10,000 to cover study costs for their STEAM-related courses.
An additional 238 secondary school students received $2,000 to cover school costs, in the inaugural year of the Toloa Secondary School Scholarship Fund, and the Wellbeing programme which accompanied it.
The Ministry is looking to continue this momentum, offering similar numbers of scholarships in 2023.
Applications for the 2023 Toloa Tertiary and Secondary School Scholarships are opening soon.
Keep an eye on the MPP website for information as it is updated.