Rewa Parsonson from Kaitaia College won the inaugural scholarship in 2017. He studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) specialising in Electronics at The University of Auckland. He now lives in Wellington and works as a software tester for FNZ, a global digital wealth management platform.
Winning meant Rewa could pursue a degree straight out of high school. “My decision to study came with a huge ﬁnancial commitment and not something my family could help with. Looking back, without the support I received from Top Energy I would possibly never have gone to university.”
It’s why Rewa encourages every university bound high school student in the Far North to apply for the Scholarship. “It’s not an opportunity you should pass up. All scholarships exist to be taken advantage of; you have more chance of winning if you put your hat in the ring.”
He advises applicants not to undersell themselves. “Remember, you are competing with others your own age and experience. So, although grades are important, your interest and enthusiasm are just as valuable when trying to make a good impression.
Craig Nelder from Okaihau College won in 2018 after his mum saw the advert in the paper and encouraged him to apply. Following graduation from The University of Waikato, his 2-year geotechnical team internship with civil engineers Haigh Workman in Kerikeri turned into a full-time role.
“To be honest winning meant a lot,” says Craig. “It really motivated me to work hard and looked great on my CV when applying for other internships and jobs.”
He re-iterated Rewa’s comment about the ﬁnancial burden on family. “The $8,000 a year I received from Top Energy means my student loan will be paid oﬀ in November - 10 months after ﬁnishing my degree. This is not the norm for most students.”
His advice for applicants anxious about the interview part of their application is to be themselves, answer naturally and be honest.
Elisha Alexander won in 2020/21 and headed oﬀ to study mechanical engineering at The University of Auckland.
Her advice when applying is do your research, have a clear idea of what you’re going to university for, plan out what you’re going to write and practice what you might say in your interview with others.
“Having everything planned makes for a better, more real entry and it also shows you’re going to be doing something you really want to do. The application is good practice for all your successful job applications in the future too!”
Lauren Harrell from Kerikeri High School is still at university. Majoring in Mechanical Engineering, in her third year she added a Design degree to her studies. She applied twice for the Top Energy Scholarship Programme, winning it in 2019/20 at the end of her ﬁrst year at university. Her advice to those already doing a degree is to think of the bigger picture and make the time to apply.
“The scholarship pays for your degree, provides you the work experience you need to graduate and gives you the freedom to really participate in student life.”
Lauren believes she’s been able to worry less and had a much more enjoyable study experience because of it. It feels like her home town has backed her all the way.
2018/19 winner Lucia Avery from Kerikeri High School is in her ﬁnal year of her chemical engineering degree at The University of Canterbury. Already she has secured a place on Beca’s 2-year Graduate Development Programme.
“Don’t underestimate how much the scholarship can mean to you,” advises Lucia. “Like the others, it gave me with the freedom to do my degree without being weighed down by a massive student loan. But just as important is the internship provided by Top Energy. It gave me the work experience hours I needed to graduate and provided insight into what I should look for in a good employer.”
Her advice to applicants is spend time making sure you get everything down. “You need to let the judges see who you are and what motivates you, on paper and in the interview.”
Last year’s winner, Rosey Robb from Kerikeri High School, took a gap year before heading to the University of Auckland. She is about to ﬁnish the second year of her Mechatronics degree and is looking forward to her summer internship at Top Energy.
“I’m not worried about ﬁnding a summer job to help with ﬁnances and work hours towards my degree.” “The long-term beneﬁts of the Scholarship will deﬁnitely
help,” continues Rosey. “When it comes to applying for jobs, I will have had work experience with a company that people recognise."
She recommends that applicants start writing their applications early and to spend time reﬁning it. When it comes to the interview, her advice is the same as Craig’s. “Relax, be yourself and try not to stress too much. The conversation ﬂows easier and you’re more likely to remember important things about yourself.”
The Top Energy Engineering Scholarship programme opens opportunities that may not have been previously available to Far North students. It aims to assist those wishing to study engineering, or in the middle of their degree, and who have already achieved an excellent academic record.
The scholarship provides provides $8,000 per year of study, for a maximum of four years, and an internship for the duration of study. Applicants must have a genuine
interest and passion to study in the ﬁeld of engineering and want to continue working in that ﬁeld upon completion of their studies.
The scholarship is part of a suite of sponsorship initiatives oﬀered by Top Energy for the beneﬁt of the Far North community. These include the Electricity Rescue
Helicopter - an essential lifeline for remote rural communities, and the Top Energy Business Development Fund, which oﬀers grants to existing businesses which have the potential to grow the economy in the Far North.
Get your application in for the Top Energy Engineering Scholarship programme. Applications close 31 October 2022.