Sunday, May 26, 2024

Inaugural Tauranga council scholarship gets underway

Nathan Bailey has achieved what many university students dream of – embarking on his studies without the weight of a student loan.

Nathan’s dream became a reality earlier this year when he received the inaugural Tauranga Moana Futures Scholarship.

The scholarship was established in 2022, with Tauranga City Council donating the first two scholarships to support talented University of Waikato undergraduate students whose field of study will contribute to the future development of Tauranga City and the wider region.

It was an opportunity Nathan came across while confirming his study pathway. With a value of up to $40,000 in a subject area he had developed a keen interest in, the scholarship provided the final push he needed to pursue engineering.

Nathan, a Tauranga Boys’ College alumnus, is now into his first year studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Civil Engineering. He says he’s enjoying the small class sizes, hands-on aspect of the subjects, and of course, the reduced financial pressure.

But just as valuable as not having a student loan has been the doors that have opened to career and networking opportunities thanks to the scholarship.

As a part of the scholarship, Nathan will receive work experience and project-based learning opportunities at Tauranga City Council whilst completing a summer internship in the Transport team during his second year of study.

Until then, he is making the most of every chance he has to connect with and learn from council staff.

“I recently came along to a University of Waikato alumni morning tea with council staff. It was cool to see how many staff attended the university and meet a few new people,” says Nathan.

“I also attended an Impact Lab presentation, where third year students presented to council’s Transport team about how students get to and from the Tauranga campus. It was really interesting to hear what they’ve been working on. I was encouraged to share my thoughts and ideas, which was a good challenge and learning experience.”

Nathan says the interactions he’s already having with the council are helping him feel more comfortable.

“When I first got the scholarship, I knew I would be getting a summer internship, but I wasn’t sure how involved I would be during the year. Now that I’m in it, I’m really enjoying it and learning a lot.

“When it comes time for the internship, I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone better, seeing how everything runs and hopefully trying to find solutions to some problems.

“It will be my first corporate job as my past work experience was as a swimming coach, so it’s a pretty big step up. But even just coming in for these events at council has made me way more comfortable. I don’t have any nerves, just excitement.”

Nathan says he’s passionate about improving Tauranga.

“As a fast-growing city, it has lots of potential, but ongoing infrastructure upgrades are needed to support its development.”

“One of the main problems I see is the lack of sufficient road infrastructure, which causes delays all over. I live in Welcome Bay and see the need to upgrade Turret Road, as every day I sit in traffic morning and evening on the bus. These upgrades could include adding a multidirectional lane or ideally upgrading it to a four-lane expressway. This will help clear the gridlock during peak hours.

“This is just one of many ideas I have to improve Tauranga, and through this scholarship, I hope I can help accomplish these goals.”

For those interested in pursuing a career in civil engineering, environmental engineering, software engineering, environmental science, or computer science in Tauranga in 2024, applications are now open for the Tauranga Moana Futures Scholarship, closing 15 October 2023.

Nathan’s advice for those unsure about applying is to “give it a go”.

“I wasn’t sure I would get the scholarship, but I thought I might as well go for it, and I’m so glad I did,” he said.

“I’d encourage people to apply and make sure to highlight any accomplishments and extracurriculars they take part in. I did lots of community service projects, the Duke of Edinburgh awards, and I play sports. It’s all about showing how you work with others and give back – I think that really helps in the application.”

Tauranga City Council Commissioner, Shadrach Rolleston says the council’s investment in the scholarship will help create a skilled and diverse talent pool that can contribute effectively to the city’s future growth and development.

“The Tauranga Moana Futures scholarship was established to encourage students to study in Tauranga and focus on subjects of high importance to our city and region. We have a huge programme of capital projects, from our civic precinct development to our spatial plans, and we need engineers and scientists that know our city and industry structures to support this work,” he said.

“Students like Nathan will play a crucial role in the ongoing transformation of Tauranga into a vibrant, well-planned city over the coming decades, so this investment is invaluable.

“It’s wonderful to see Nathan making the most of the scholarship’s opportunities and building strong networks with Tauranga City Council. We look forward to seeing his ongoing growth and contribution, not only to council, but to our community.”

The scholarship is part of the broader Tauranga Moana Futures programme. The programme provides local tertiary students practical experiences in the form of project and team-based work to apply their academic study, growing their local government experience and supporting our local talent pipeline.

Applications for the scholarship are now open. To learn more about the scholarship and apply, visit https://www.waikato.ac.nz/scholarships/s/tauranga-moana-futures-scholarship.

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