For the past six years, Waimea Soroptimists have been giving an education grant to a local woman over the age of 25 who is studying at a tertiary institute. The Soroptimist International of Waimea Education Grant has been made annually since 2013. The grant is a sum of $3000 and goes towards a woman studying in a tertiary institute based in the Nelson-Tasman region.
Soroptimist International has a large focus on education for women, as it says educated women are more likely to leave a domestic violence situation and not return, be able to access healthcare, are less likely to live in poverty and be able to raise stronger, healthier families.
Waimea Soroptimists secretary Diane Thomsen says that “it is a key part of the Soroptimist mission to increase access to education.”
The recipient of the 2019 Waimea education grant is Shelly Roberts. Shelly is in her third year, and is studying towards a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (primary) at the University of Canterbury’s Nelson campus.
Shelly has been studying part time towards her degree since she began in 2016, while juggling a variety of part time jobs.
For five years, Shelly has been working part time as the sports co-ordinator at Waimea Intermediate school. It was here that Shelly discovered that she loved working with kids. “The staff there are so supportive, and they inspired me to go into teaching. I had some great friends and mentors who helped me through it.”
For Shelly, receiving the grant felt like a well-deserved culmination of hard work. “I worked part time for the last two years, while studying full time, and I’ve got six kids, so there’s always quite a lot to do.”
Shelly is currently on a teaching placement at Nelson Christian Academy, and is getting ready to graduate in October, and she says the grant has been a huge help. “It was really nice to get the email. I was in the car, and I went onto my phone and ordered all my text books straight away. The scholarship has allowed me to change my role, I can work less now and do some relief teaching to get some more experience. It really takes some of the pressure off.”
Lynne Johnston, who is on the selection board for the education grant, says “We are delighted to have found Shelly. It couldn’t have gone to someone more deserving.”
For Shelly, her passion for teaching comes down to a single value. “If you feel strongly that attitudes in society need to change – teach. Teach kindness, and teach compassion.”