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Scholarship helps EIT Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) student fulfil promise to late mother

June 5, 2024

EIT Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) student Olivia Thomas has been awarded the Margaret Hetley Scholarship.

Being awarded the Margaret Hetley Scholarship has given EIT student Olivia Thomas a much-needed boost to fulfil the promise she made to her late-mother of becoming a primary school teacher.

The 24-year-old is currently in her second year of a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) at the Hawke’s Bay Campus in Taradale. She says it is “surreal” to have been chosen for the scholarship.

The scholarship, worth $2,500 is in memory of Margaret Hetley, who gifted the land on which EIT Hawke’s Bay is located, for the purpose of tertiary education in the region. The scholarship is awarded annually by the Ōtātara Trust to assist women to undertake tertiary study.

“I feel a massive wave of gratitude,” Olivia says of the scholarship.

“I just went for the scholarship. But I thought there’s probably heaps of people that would go for it and I’ll never be able to be one of them. So, I was very surprised.”

Olivia says she would like to think her mum Jacqui, who passed away in June 2022, would have been proud of her.

“That’s the first thing that my uncle said, how excited she would be. Because she was the first person that I thought about calling when I heard that I got the scholarship. She is always the first person I want to call to tell good news to.”

Her mum, an Occupational Therapist, was a huge inspiration and motivator for her.

“One of the promises that I made to her was that I was going to get in and try studying to be a teacher. And I got into the course a couple of months after she had passed.”

“It just felt like it was meant to be and I had something positive to look forward to after losing her. It also felt like it was a sign that she wanted me to continue on with my dreams even though I was still grieving.”

“She’s my main role model. She always inspired me to be the best version of myself. She always believed that I’d be a great teacher someday and she inspired me to fulfil my dreams.”

The 24-year-old first started working with children at an after school care programme at 17.

Her first year was challenging due to Cyclone Gabrielle, but she is now enjoying being back on campus.

“The main reason I chose EIT was the placement opportunities throughout the year, compared to other universities where they do it at the end of the year. It’s great to be able to apply everything I’ve learnt in the classroom.”

Last year, she was at Irongate School in Flaxmere and this year, she is at Napier Intermediate, which happens to be the school she attended in Year 7 and 8.

“It’s fun coming back and being on the other side.”

Careers Counsellor Shelley Oliver says the Scholarship Panel were “very impressed” with Olivia’s application and references provided.

“We wish Olivia well for her Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) studies for 2024 and look forward to hearing about her progress.”