Despite living with impaired vision, Pāpāmoa College student Isabella Wilson is determined not to let her disability hinder her pursuit of one day becoming a high court judge.
It is this tenacity and her unwavering academic efforts that have led to the Year 12 student being awarded a $12,000 scholarship from facilities management services company OCS New Zealand and First Foundation to financially support her through her tertiary studies.
Isabella says the financial assistance provided through the scholarship is an amazing gift.
“My big blended family comes with its own barriers – every dollar my parents make has gone on being able to give myself and my siblings every opportunity. However, university education has always been something out of our reach,” she says.
“I know I can make a difference to my community and other families like mine. Being the first in my family to attend university will, I hope, pave a path for and inspire others in similar situations.”
As well as being dedicated to her academic studies, Isabella has previously competed internationally in wrestling, representing Aotearoa in the NZ Wrestling Development Squad.
While she had to take a break from the sport due to her vision impairment, which has worsened with age, she has recently been cleared medically to start training again, despite knowing she will not have full vision.
Since 2014, OCS New Zealand has provided scholarships to high school students of low-income OCS families through the First Foundation sponsorship programme.
The three to four-year scholarships include $12,000 to go towards tuition fees, work experience and access to a mentor within their field of study. The scholarship package arms scholars with the skills and knowledge they need for a successful career and study experience.
OCS ANZ managing director, Gareth Marriott, says the relationship with the First Foundation programme allows OCS to help create better outcomes for the families of all their team members.
“As part of the OCS whānau, we ensure our scholarship recipients are surrounded by a caring team of hard-working individuals that are intent on leaving our planet in a better place for future generations.
“These scholarships are just one way we make sure that our students of today are set to achieve great things in this constantly changing world we live in,” he says.
Gareth says that, as a result of her injury, Isabella has already shown amazing perseverance through adversity.
“These challenges, at such a young age, will put her in good stead to complete her studies and one day reach her goal of being a high court judge. I’m already looking forward to following her journey,” he says.
Isabella says the scholarship will help her access the extra adapted resources required due to her vision loss.
She also believes the work experience through the scholarship will widen her knowledge. Her mentor will provide a support system to transition into tertiary study and help to increase her independence.
Isabella intends to study a Bachelor of Law at the University of Waikato.