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First Foundation Scholarship and Ceremony

First Foundation Scholarship and Ceremony - by Jessica Beckford

Jessica Beckford —

Early last week I was lucky enough to attend the 2023 First Foundation Awards Ceremony up in Auckland, one of 80 in the new cohort officially receiving their scholarship, along with 48 completing scholars after their 4-year journey with F.F. 

The night, MC’d by Pio Terei, was an opportunity to celebrate whilst hearing some amazing stories from alumni, scholarship partners, CEO Kirk Sargent, and founder Steven Carden.

I was first inspired to apply for the scholarship April last year when my mentor teacher encouraged my class to apply, not having much understanding of who F.F. actually are as an organisation. From there I followed a lengthy process of further application letters and interviews throughout the year until being shortlisted and officially selected in November - chosen from the initial thousands of applicants.

With my scholarship, I am granted $12000 over the next 3 years, along with a personal mentor as a guide and friendly face, and a minimum of 4-5 weeks paid work experience with my scholarship partner.

Since First Foundation’s beginning in 1998, they have supported 918 students from 120 schools, supported by over 650 different mentors and 194 scholarship partners. I’m proud to be the first West Coast student to have ever received this scholarship and am so grateful to be paired with my fabulous mentor Heidi Baker at ESR and my scholarship partner Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research.

With that in mind, I highly encourage anyone who is even just considering attending university to check if they fit the criteria and apply with an open mind. It is open for Yr 12s and occasionally Yr 13’s throughout the country no matter what you want to study, and although the applications for this year have already closed, it is a good thing to consider for the future.

- Jessica Beckford