2024 Scholarship Students

Meet our second cohort of students

We are delighted to introduce you to our second cohort of Milford Foundation Scholarship students who began their studies in February 2024.

Eman Al Hamdoush

Hometown: Auckland
High School: Kelston Girls’ College
Bachelor of Architecture, AUT

Eman Al Hamdoush has a desire to ensure everyone has the right to an education, shelter and food. The Syrian refugee, who lives with her mother and five siblings, knows all too well the harsh realities of living without those basic necessities. Moving from Syria to Lebanon when war broke out in 2011, life continued to be tough. She barely saw her father, and her family was not well received by the local people.

Moving to New Zealand in 2018, Eman’s parents divorced, she moved around a lot – including staying in a motel for six months – and she missed a lot of school due to “psychological discomfort, pressure, stress and lack of stability”. Then Covid lockdowns hit, forcing Eman to repeat an entire year of schooling.

All of this, however, has given her a tremendous sense of purpose and drive. A talented artist, she achieved First in Class in both Level 2 Art Design and Art Painting. One of her life goals is to make money – not for herself, but to help others. “I have lots of dreams I want to achieve. Helping people makes my life happier and more meaningful. Everyone has the right to education, food, clothes and shelter.”

Lucy Alpin

Hometown: Wainuiomata
High School: Wainuiomata High School
Bachelor of Communication – Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington

The past year has been a difficult one for Lucy Alpin – she lost her beloved grandfather and uncle just six weeks apart, and a work injury suffered by her father means her mother is now the sole income earner. “It took a toll on my family, however it’s helped me to become more motivated because I know I’m making them proud – especially my grandmother who never had the opportunity to finish high school.”

Lucy was a Head Student at Wainuiomata High School, received Academic Badges in Years 9-12, won the Year 11 and 12 English Cup, and is a member of the award-winning dance crew, Levitate. She has danced since she was small – starting with jazz and ballet before discovering a love of hip hop.

While she was sad to leave high school, Lucy is enjoying university life – especially joining clubs. Her career goal is to become a teacher – something she discovered through being a Sunday School Assistant at her church. When she’s not dancing, reading or at church, you’ll find her at her local gym.

Lily Ashe

Hometown: Wanaka
High School: Mt Aspiring College
Bachelor of Science, Otago University

Lily Ashe has plans to major in Food Science because she’s passionate about making a difference to sustainable food development in New Zealand. Adopted by her single mother when she was one-year-old, Lily is particularly interested in the effects of climate change on food production.

She’s already walking the walk, having achieved the highest grades in Food and Nutrition every year of her high school education. Lily also received the top award for Business Studies and Physical Education – on top of receiving NCEA Excellence endorsements.

Describing herself as mature, hard-working and friendly, she takes pride in her commitments and is looking forward to her Milford Foundation Scholarship journey. “When I received the call that I was successful, the reality kicked in that my dream to attend university was actually coming true,” she says. “I’m relieved and grateful and looking forward to the challenges university will bring.”

In her spare time, Lily enjoys playing netball and coaching younger teams. “I’m proud that these kids look up to me as a mentor and role model – it’s a privilege.”

Brody Brownlee

Hometown: Mt Maunganui
High School: Mt Maunganui College
Bachelor of Engineering (Software Engineering), University of Auckland

Creating change within his community, and bringing pride and mana to his mother and extended family, are key motivators for Brody Brownlee heading into university. The recipient of a Māori Academic Excellence Award, Brody is looking forward to pursuing his passion for software development.

“I want to inspire the next generation and carry pride for being a Māori in software engineering.” He describes himself as calm, confident and compassionate, and enjoys football, debating and crossfit in his spare time.

Raised as an only child by his solo mum, Brody struggled with the uncertainty of the pandemic lockdowns. “At times I found the isolation challenging, so I sought support to help me build a kete of tools to build a positive growth mindset. I have become very adaptable and able to respond positively despite the difficult time.”

Brody received NCEA Level 1 and 2 Excellence Endorsements, and was a college Careers Ambassador. He also received a 100% pass on a paper for the University of Waikato’s Unistart Programme. However, it was Auckland’s engineering degree that enticed him – and his Milford Foundation Scholarship allowed him to make the choice to move to Auckland.

Olisa Faatupu

Hometown: Auckland
High School: Southern Cross Campus
Study plans for 2024: First Year Health Sciences, University of Otago

Olisa Faatupu’s determination to become a doctor is the result of a childhood spent in and out of hospital with a serious heart condition. “I want to be a doctor to support patients who feel disadvantaged due to health conditions and have a poor family background.”

Proudly Samoan, Olisa is one of eight children from a single-income family. Falling behind in her schooling due to hospital stays, she realised education was the key to changing her family’s situation, so she set her mind to working hard and achieving academically. This was recognised when she was named Dux of her primary school, Top Student in Years 9 and 10, and Runner-Up Top Student in Year 12.

More time in hospital during her high school years meant Olisa had to push herself to maintain her excellent grades. “Being in hospital and under recovery was hard while I was preparing for exams. It took a huge toll on my emotional and mental wellbeing.” Despite this, in 2023 Olisa was her school’s Academic Prefect and Board of Trustees Student Rep. She’s also a tutor, debater, chess player, netball captain and in her church band.

She sees her Milford Foundation Scholarship as another step forward in breaking the poverty cycle. “This scholarship proves I can be more.”

Tabitha Hildyard

Home town: Alexandra
High School: Currently on a gap year
First Year Health Sciences, University of Otago

Tabitha Hildyard’s goal is acceptance into Otago’s dental programme but for now she’s concentrating on successfully completing first year Health Sciences. “Receiving this scholarship gives me motivation to work hard and push through the challenges.” She’s also excited to be an ambassador for the Milford Foundation as “its focus on youth, education and the environment connects closely with many of my own values, and my passion for volunteering”.

Tabitha has completed her Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards, was a Service Committee Leader at high school, the Central Otago Youth Council Chairperson, undertook the Mana Rangatahi Leadership programme, and was awarded the 50th Jubilee Cup for service to her school and community.

The death of her sister in 2021 had a huge impact on Tabitha, affecting her focus and motivation. She’s worked hard to rebuild her energy and, after a gap year away from study, is looking forward to the challenge of university.

She lives with her mother, brother and grandmother, and has little contact with her father. Her mother is unemployed due to health issues, and Tabitha is keen to assist her family by funding her own university costs.

Destiny Martin

Hometown: Christchurch
High School: Te Aratai College
Bachelor of Arts, University of Canterbury

A childhood of domestic violence turned from trauma to motivation for Destiny Martin, who plans to support young people in her career as a teacher. Growing up in a large family which struggled financially, Destiny learned that not having the right equipment for school wasn’t a barrier to success.

As Te Aratai College’s Deputy Head Girl in 2023, she was also the school’s Māori Prefect, a Board of Trustees Student Rep, the highest academic achiever in both 2018 and 2019 – and a talented footballer!

Having struggled mentally due to her homelife, Destiny believes university will open new doors to meaningful connections in a thriving academic community. A thoughtful and mature student, Destiny has overcome many barriers and says while her childhood created a lot of anguish, it also made her independent and resilient from a young age. She describes herself as an introverted extrovert, who believes personal time and space is vital to maintaining good mental health.

In her spare time, aside from sports and her leadership commitments, Destiny enjoys the arts and playing the piano.

Oliva Reid

Hometown: Auckland
High School: Kelston Boys’ College
Bachelor of Design (Economics and Industrial Design), AUT

Hard work over talent is something Oliva Reid lives by. This philosophy has seen him win academic excellence awards and being named top student in six classes over the past two years – despite needing assistance through learning support programmes as a younger student. Raised by his solo mum and grandparents, Oliva is an aspiring fashion designer who wasn’t sure he was going to be able to attend university in 2024, until he received the Milford Foundation Scholarship.

Describing it as “life changing”, OIiva says his struggles were worth it. “Everything I have endured has made me who I am today.” His determination to be financially self-sufficient is driven, in part, by a desire to give his 3-year-old sister more opportunities than he experienced growing up.

The Hauora and Wellbeing Prefect at his school in 2023, Oliva took part in the ‘Shadow a Leader’ programme at AUT, and received the Year 12 Award for Academic Excellence.

His goal is to become the head creative designer for a leading fashion brand.

Baromey Rous

Hometown: Thames
High School: Thames High School
Bachelor of Engineering (Hon), University of Auckland

Baromey Rous has a strong set of values, rooted in resilience and determination, borne out of her early life in Cambodia. Coming to New Zealand as a 7-year-old immigrant, Baromey and her family faced language barriers and financial hardship, however the toughest challenge was when her mother lost her battle with cancer when Baromey was in her early teens. This left her father to raise his children alone – with limited English and no stable employment.

Despite the difficulties she has faced caring for her younger brothers, working part-time to support her family, and keeping on top of school commitments, Baromey has an outstanding academic record, including Distinctions in Art, Biology and English, and winning the Scholastic Excellence Cup in Year 12.

An award-winning artist, Baromey’s career interests lie in chemical engineering. She’s determined to build a sustainable future after witnessing deaths in her home country due to contamination.

Baromey’s Milford Foundation Scholarship will give her the chance to “embrace the chance to prioritise myself”. A hard-working and dedicated student, she is excited about the opportunities university will bring, including new-found independence, refining her passion and purpose, and making new friends.

Malia Telefina Moa

Hometown: Auckland
High School: Southern Cross Campus
Bachelor of Business Studies, AUT

Malia Telefina Moa is a “proud Tongan” living with mother and two sisters in Auckland. Her father passed away in 2019, creating financial challenges for her family. Head Girl at her school in 2023, Malia is keen to embrace the opportunities university will bring – opportunities not afforded to her parents. “I have big dreams and I want to show everyone who ever doubted me that I can – and I will. Not just for me, but for my parents too.”

Some tough experiences at high school this year have built up Destiny’s resilience, and her faith in God. “It’s helped prepare me for university – and the future. I know I can stand on my own two feet when life throws me curveballs. I’m looking forward to learning more about myself and being able to grow.”

In her spare time, Malia enjoys playing music (including acoustic, bass and electric guitar, violin, ukulele and drums), singing, drawing and spending time with her close-knit family. Her future career goal is to work in finance.

Roya Sultani

Home town: Wainuiomata
High School: Wainuiomata High School
Bachelor of Arts and Law Conjoint, Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington

When Roya Sultani passionately expresses her desire to improve the lives of children in Afghanistan, she’s drawing from her own experiences growing up in Kabul. “My homeland has faced conflict and instability, which have had a devastating impact on the lives of its youngest citizens. I am committed to the cause of providing these children with the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

Unable to attend school for six months due to the conflict, Roya and her family moved to New Zealand in 2019 – facing myriad challenges as they adjusted to their new life. One of those was being moved around the country until permanent accommodation could be found.

An outstanding scholar, Roya has chosen to study law with the goal of working for an organisation like UNICEF or the United Nations. She’s been a high school ambassador for UN Youth, volunteered at Parliament to gain a better understanding of New Zealand’s political system, and was an intern at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. Roya isn’t waiting until graduation to realise her dreams – she plans to start an organisation to support schools in Afghanistan while she’s at university.

Waiata Taikato

Hometown: Rotorua
High School: Rotorua Lakes High School
Bachelor of Arts and Commerce, University of Auckland

Waiata Taikato sums himself up in two words; hard working. Raised by a solo mum, he works at a local fast food restaurant up to 35 hours a week – on top of his schooling – to support his family of six siblings. “Anyone can be born rich or smart, but it takes a lot more than the circumstances of one’s birth to be a hard worker.”

Overcoming a mountain of obstacles, Waiata is an inspirational student, who is disciplined, resilient and driven to succeed. Moving from Australia means he is ineligible for government support while studying, so gaining a Milford Foundation Scholarship was a determining factor in him being able to attend university. “This is the single most important achievement that I have had the privilege to acknowledge as my own. This scholarship is the proof that working hard opens doors. ”

Waiata was his school’s Student Rep on the Board of Trustees, plus an Officer for both Junior and Senior Council for Rotorua Lakes. He was particularly proud to be voted onto the Board by his peers, following weeks of speeches and electioneering.

His goal is to become an English teacher.

Josh Sherwin

Hometown: Christchurch
High School: Papanui High School
Bachelor of Commerce, University of Otago

Sports-loving Josh Sherwin has played for multiple Canterbury rugby teams, was awarded MVP of his basketball team, and has represented his school at national athletics tournaments. He also won the Rising Star award for his school in 2022. These are outstanding achievements – but even more so when you consider Josh has physical disabilities in both arms and hands.

“Going through life with this has forced me to become extremely adaptive and extremely ambitious to be able to keep up my peers – and in many cases surpass them.”

The youngest of three children born to a Samoan mother and Kiwi father, Josh has enjoyed starting his commerce degree. “I’m already used to having to work extra hard. I think attitude is by far the most important thing in achieving your goals.”

His Milford Foundation Scholarship means a lot to him – primarily for the mentoring. “No one in my family has been to university or taken the business/commerce route. I am in need of guidance by someone who can steer me in the best direction.”

Malaika Tasnia

Hometown: Auckland
High School: Kelston Girls’ College
AUT Degree Transition Business Diploma (leading to a Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Laws conjoint degree)

Malaika Tasnia has an entrepreneurial spirit – something that developed at an early age. Among her many ventures, one of the earliest was in primary school, when she operated an organic veggie business from her home in Suva, Fiji to financially support her schooling. From a single-income family with a sick father, Malaika found ways to assist her mother in bringing additional income into the home.

Moving to New Zealand five years ago, Malaika’s love of business has grown, and she’s thrived taking part in Market Days as part of her Business Studies at high school. Her degree plans are designed to give her career options – but being an accountant is top of her list.

A born leader, Malaika has a wide range of interests, including founding her school’s Debate Club, various sports, volunteer care-giving at a hospital, Head Librarian, and Student Rep on her school’s Board of Trustees. She cites her parents lack of education as her motivation to succeed, and chose to undertake certificate training in a wide range of skills – including acute care and first aid.

“As a child of immigrant parents, I learned to take responsibility for my family and myself at a very young age. I love to help others and that’s something I want to continue to do.”

Kahukura Te Rauna

Hometown: Wainuiomata
High School: Wainuiomata High School
Bachelor of Commerce / Māori Studies – Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington

Te reo Māori is an important part of Kahukura Te Rauna’s life – in fact, it’s his first language. As Wainuiomata High School’s Head Boy in 2023, Kahukura lists te reo and his culture as two of his passions. One of his proudest moments was when he read the Ode of Remembrance in Māori at his local ANZAC service.

Kahukura has a long list of academic achievements, which include Year 9 Top Student, Year 11 Top Student in Social Science, Faculty Award-winner for Year 12 Māori, and Year 12 runner-up Top Student.

The eldest of five boys, Kahukura is an outstanding all-round achiever, who volunteers in his community, works part-time, and is a Wellington region and national ki-o-rahi rep. While the Milford Foundation Scholarship will ease the financial burden on his one-income family, it’s the mentoring and support that he is most looking forward to. “It will support me during the tenure of my studies and help me network and make connections with like-minded people who want to succeed as much as I do.”

Kyla Wilson

Hometown: Thames
High School: Thames High School
Marketing or Management, University of Otago

Thames High School Head Girl in 2023, Kyla Wilson, has a long list of achievements to her name, including Top Girl in Year 11 and 12 Physical Education – not surprising for someone who has was an U18 national netball rep and also plays football, cricket, touch, bowls, and enjoys athletics and the Tough Guy/Girl Challenge!

Softly spoken, Kyla wants to study a degree that keeps her options open for a future career path. She is a volunteer fire fighter with two local brigades, and enjoys being part of a close-knit community – having lost her sister at the age of 21. “This was devastating and taught us all to enjoy every moment you have with loved ones.”

Receiving a Milford Foundation Scholarship has enabled Kyla to attend university, and she’s looking forward to having a strong support system for her educational journey.

Moving to Thames from a small rural community was a challenge, but through it Kyla developed the ability to make new friends and operate outside of her comfort zone. “I learnt to be resilient and empathetic towards others when faced with challenges. It’s given me the confidence to take risks despite uncertainty.”