NZ rangatahi share 'surreal' feelings about winning $25k scholarships for Ivy League uni dreams

NZ rangatahi share 'surreal' feelings about winning $25k scholarships for Ivy League uni dreams

"I also feel really lucky to be a representation of all my whānau and hapu"

Four students from Aotearoa have earned the chance to gain admission to an Ivy League school in America, thanks to an epic scholarship. 

Competing against 178 other students from across the motu, only four came out on top and have each received a scholarship worth $25,000.  

Not only is this opportunity going to give some hard-working high schoolers a shot at an incredible university education, but it's also inspiring them to "represent their people on the global stage" and make our country proud, according to the teens themselves..

Erini Fruean from Inglewood High School in Taranaki is one of the amazing recipients and told us what it was like the moment she learned she had scored the scholarship.

“When I received the email, I was so, so excited. I think I screamed, jumped up and down, and then ran to show my mum," she said. 

"That was the moment the shock and reality of the future hit, and we both cried.”

Erini expressed a strong sense of support from her ancestors, saying, "I feel so supported by my tupuna as it is their legacy.

"I am continuing my resilience and seeking the best education possible as well as immersing myself in the fear of the unknown.

“Huge acknowledgment to the other three recipients of this scholarship, I’m sure collectively our goal is to give back to our country and make them proud."

The scholarship, named Te Ara a Kupe Beaton, is founded by Crimson Education, and aims to provide support to Māori high school students to gain admission to top-ranked global universities. Last year, the scholarship expanded to New Zealanders with Pacific heritage to secure their top university admissions. 

Luke Westrupp from Rotorua Boys’ High, who also earned a scholarship, plans to study politics and international relations at either Yale or Harvard.

Reflecting on the past few days since receiving the scholarship, Luke described the experience as "surreal". 

“Realising that our dreams are one step closer to being achieved has been incredible and we are very thankful to Crimson for giving us this opportunity.

“It has been so nice to see the support that has been shown to us by the wider community and feel a real responsibility to represent our people on the global stage. 

"I also feel really lucky to be a representation of all my whānau and hapu in Ngati Pikiao and Rongowhakaata, and the Rotorua schools and teachers." 

The third scholarship awardee, Jared Lasike is also from Rotorua Boys’ High and plans to study medicine at one of the prestigious universities.

Receiving this incredible scholarship has been a “humbling experience” for Jared. 

“Being provided the opportunity to represent my culture and community on a global stage is such a surreal experience.

“The support given to us from our communities and peers has made me extremely thankful for the opportunity presented, I feel honoured to be given what I feel is a responsibility,” Jared told us.

The final recipient of the scholarship, M'Lago Morris from Whangārei Boys’ High School has plans to study at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. 

“My ultimate goal is to become a world-renowned stage director bringing Māori and New Zealand culture to theatres and screens around the globe," he told NZ Herald.  

"There is a lot I can do for our community by using my skills to communicate the struggles we face with racism, socio-economic hardships, our long rough history with colonisation, substance abuse, physical violence, mental health, and so much more that is affecting our country and more importantly our rangatahi. 

“This scholarship will help me achieve greatness for myself, my country, and my people," he added. 

So proud to see our rangatahi excelling like this and get recognised and supported to make such a huge impact on the global community.