Scion Scholarship will help budding scientist

7 December 2007

Budding scientist Blanche Edwards has been given a helping hand towards her future science career, thanks to a scholarship from Rotorua-based Crown Research Institute, Scion. Blanche, from Rotorua Girls High School, is the 2007 recipient of the annual Scion Suffrage Scholarship. She will receive a $2000 cash grant towards her tertiary studies, as well as guaranteed summer vacation work at Scion for the duration of her undergraduate study. The Scion scholarship commemorates the 1993 New Zealand Suffrage Centennial and is open to local female senior students who plan to undertake a tertiary qualification that will potentially benefit the forestry or biomaterials industry.

Potential study areas include any of the pure or applied sciences, including engineering and mathematical sciences. Selection is made based on academic achievement, as well as contribution to school and community life. Blanche will be attending the University of Auckland next year where she will be working towards a Bachelor of Biomedical Science. “I chose that degree because it can lead on to many disciplines of science. I enjoy science, but haven’t chosen what I would like to specialise in yet. “That’s what really appeals to me about this scholarship – each summer I will get work experience in a different area of Scion and really decide where my interest lies,” she says. Blanche says she has enjoyed science ever since her first lesson at school. “Some of it is difficult, but I enjoy it, so I don’t mind working hard. It really interests me and so I want to learn more,” she says. Scion scientist and Suffrage Scholarship judge Dr Christine Todoroki says the calibre of applicants was extremely high this year, so it was a difficult decision – but Blanche was the perfect candidate. “Blanche is talented in so many areas, but has yet to decide what she wants to do. This is just the opportunity she needs to try a range of research areas – from wood processing through to biomaterials. We’ll enjoy working with her,” she says. Dr Todoroki says the scholarship provides a great opportunity for students to learn hands-on skills over the summer, and means they can concentrate on their studies during the academic year without worrying about finding summer vacation employment.

Rotorua Girls High School Principal Annette Joyce says Blanche is following in the footsteps of other talented ex-pupils who have been recipients of the Scion scholarship. “We’ve had tremendous success over the years at winning these scholarships. All the girls who have had this opportunity have gone on to do extremely well in science and associated industries. “This is a unique scholarship because not only does it provide financial help, but also work experience. We recently had a student return to talk to the school about how beneficial the scholarship has been at giving her life and work skills.” Ms Joyce says the Scion Suffrage Scholarship is also a positive example of how educators and the science community can work together to encourage students to consider careers in science.