I took the scholarship and I'm now a nurse


    The 41-year-old is a former recipient of the foundation’s health scholarship which gives financial aid and support to students studying in a health-related field.

    Scholarships are awarded to local people with the aim that they’ll work within the Counties Manukau community once they complete their studies.

    Originally from Zimbabwe, Ms Matongo says she had wanted to be a nurse ever since the age of 13.

    "During class one time the teacher asked what we wanted to be and I said I wanted to be a nurse.

    "The only thing that stopped me doing it in Zimbabwe was the high competition for a small number of places."

    In 2002 Ms Matongo moved her family to New Zealand because she wanted a better future for her two children.

    It was while working as a healthcare assistant at Middlemore Hospital in 2006 that she discovered the scholarships and decided to pursue her dream.

    While she admits to having some nerves the actual process of applying for the scholarships was pretty easy, she says.

    "If you’re well-prepared it is very simple. All I had to provide was my personal history, proof of financial difficulties and my academic history.

    "The hardest part is the waiting and sometimes I thought I might not get a scholarship. I was so happy when I found out I was awarded one."

    Ms Matongo took up her studies at the Manukau Institute of Technology the following year and successfully applied for another scholarship last year.

    During her studies life was a bit of a juggling act for her, managing her studies, work and family.
    But the foundation was always on hand to give her support whenever she needed it, she says.

    "The foundation was willing to help me as much as possible and was always available to meet up with me whenever I needed it.

    "And because the scholarship covered my tuition fees I wasn’t worried about accumulating lots of debt which allowed me to focus on my studies."

    In July this year she graduated with a bachelor of nursing degree and has now landed herself a job as a surgical nurse at the Manukau SuperClinic in Manurewa.

    Ms Matongo says the scholarship helped her tremendously and she definitely recommends applying to anyone interested in becoming a nurse.

    "Studying was difficult and challenging but if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything.

    "Just focus on your goal and go for it because there is nothing else to stop you," she says.

    Applications for the South Auckland Health Foundation scholarships close at 5pm on October 23.

    To download an application form or an application guide see www.sahf.org.nz.

    For information call Nicki Winn on 270-8808 or email info@sahf.org.nz.