University’s not just for smart, rich people

Victoria Gimblett, Future Student Adviser at the University of Waikato in Tauranga and past recipient of the Otumoetai Trust Undergraduate Scholarship.

Victoria Gimblett thought university was for smart, rich people “and I wasn’t either of those things” she says with a smile and matter-of-fact shrug.

But the former Tauranga Girls’ College student’s perception changed when she applied for and won the Otumoetai Trust Undergraduate Scholarship to attend the University of Waikato.

That was 12 years ago and now, with a slew of qualifications including a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours in Sociology from Waikato, Victoria works as a Future Student Adviser at the University’s Tauranga campus.

Victoria says the highlight of her job is helping people make informed decisions about their tertiary choices and she’ll be doing just that at the Tauranga Information Evening this Wednesday 22 August at ASB Arena.

University staff, including Victoria, will be hosting a presentation followed by an expo-style opportunity to meet and talk with representatives from each of the faculties, as well as graduates now in employment.

There will be an update on the progress of the new Tauranga campus developments for 2019, and staff will be available to explain the options and processes for scholarships and programmes of study.

As applications have recently opened for this year’s Otumoetai Trust Undergraduate Scholarship, Victoria will be using the opportunity to encourage eligible students to apply.

“Scholarships are there to help people and you’ve got to be in to win,” she says. “Don’t be ashamed of your situation. Own it. Eke out the opportunities to carve out the path you want for your future.”

The Otumoetai Trust Undergraduate Scholarship was established in 1998 to assist Bay of Plenty students from Otumoetai College, Tauranga Boys’ College and Tauranga Girls’ College into tertiary study, with emphasis on supporting disadvantaged students whether that be financial, social or physical disadvantage.

The purpose of the scholarship is to provide financial support to first-year undergraduate students studying full time at the University of Waikato at either the Hamilton or Tauranga campus.

With a value of up to $9000 paid over three years, Victoria says the scholarship provided her an opportunity to bridge the gap of where she wanted to go and how to pay for it.

“Who would have thought that by being honest about not coming from an ideal situation can get you a scholarship?” she says.

Brought up in a single parent home with two younger brothers Victoria witnessed first-hand how her mum struggled on her own with little education behind her.

Despite wanting to be a teacher from an early age when she entered high school Victoria assumed tertiary study would be financially out of her reach. Such facts were not lost on her careers adviser Barb Young.

Halfway through year 13 straight-talking Barb insisted that Victoria was smart but had to set herself some goals and work harder to achieve them.

“Barb told me about the scholarship and even helped me fill out the application forms,” says Victoria. “Her encouragement was pivotal to me going to uni.”

Not only the first in her family to attend university, Victoria completed an Honours year before graduating.

She scored her “dream job” in student recruitment and clocked up more than seven years working both in Hamilton and Auckland before the lure of home saw her return to Tauranga.

Now, recently returned to her role from maternity leave, the new mum is looking forward to the opening of Waikato’s new campus in Tauranga’s CBD.

Set to open early next year, Victoria says she enjoys seeing families get excited when they realise the options Waikato University can offer their kids in the Bay.

“I hope the new campus encourages people to be ‘Bay proud’ and able to see the benefits of studying here and staying on to give back to their communities,” says Victoria.

The Tauranga Information Evening is at ASB Arena (Bay Park), this Wednesday 22 August, doors open at 6pm, presentation begins 6:30pm. Online registration is recommended.


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