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Student on track for law career thanks to new scholarship

11 August 2023

Former Te Aratai College student Ashlin Chandra is relishing her first year at university and being one step closer to her goal of becoming a lawyer and justice advocate.


As one of the inaugural Te Kakau a Māui scholars at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC), Ashlin receives full tuition fees for her double degree, studying towards Bachelors of Laws and Criminal Justice. Along with financial support, the scholarship programme provides coaching, mentoring and social support so ākonga (students) can thrive and succeed.

For Ashlin, who represents the first generation in her family to go to university, studying law stems from a desire to help others and she hopes to give back through voluntary legal work in future. “I love being able to study in an area that I am passionate about. This scholarship works because it doesn’t end when you’re chosen for it – the programme stays with you. It is supporting me to reach my goal of being able to make a difference in other people’s lives.”

<img src="" alt="" style="    " class="img-responsive additional-image"> Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education

Te Kakau a Māui was established to celebrate UC’s 150th anniversary and boost educational equity by offering scholarships to students from lower decile Te Waipounamu | South Island schools. The programme aims to support students who are committed to making a positive change in the world and might not otherwise be able to attend university. Another 150 Te Kakau a Māui scholarships are being offered in 2024 and applications are open now.

In her first year at UC, Ashlin is discovering unexpected differences compared to high school, such as having to independently plan her studies, but she knows help is there when needed. Te Kakau a Māui scholars like Ashlin are connected through social hubs called homebases that build bonds and a sense of belonging.

“Without this scholarship and the homebase support, I would struggle,” says Ashlin. “The homebases are like a safety net where you can go for guidance. My homebase leader, Jess, has been very helpful throughout my transition to university and Angus, who is our success coach, is there for everyone in the programme and makes sure we are all doing okay. The Kaitoko First Year Student Advisors are also very helpful in guiding you on course selections.”

UC Amokapua | Assistant Vice-Chancellor Engagement Brett Berquist says UC is committed to supporting graduates to be able to create positive change in the world.  “We can do this better through equitable education. We look at our applicants holistically, considering the personal resilience and fortitude necessary to complete an undergraduate degree, and have built a programme of support to empower students.”

Ashlin is one of eight students from Ōtautahi’s Te Aratai College to have received a Te Kakau a Māui scholarship. College Tumuaki-Principal Richard Edmundson says Ashlin shone last year through her involvement with Generation Give - a programme teaching senior students philanthropy skills - and as a student representative on the school’s board of trustees.

“I’m so proud for our community - it’s moving for me to see what these young people are able to do,” Edmundson says. “Some of these kids would not have been able to go to UC without a scholarship. What I find beautifully enhancing about this programme is that it sees the whole person. It then takes that young person and puts them in an environment where they get exposed to further education – formal and social - that they can carry forward into the world.

“We love the strong connection that UC has with the secondary school sector and that it’s so open to receiving students from the whole spectrum and range. For us to be successful as a nation, we need to have multiple perspectives.”

With the example of students like Ashlin, Edmundson says even more senior students are now looking towards UC. He says the University is a big part of Ōtautahi Christchurch, and the city is flourishing because of what it offers. 

  • UC is offering a further 150 Te Kakau a Māui scholarships in 2024. Applications close 15 August 2023.

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