A memorial scholarship to remember former 2degrees CEO Eric Hertz, and his wife Kathy Hertz, has led to a life changing overseas exchange experience for AUT Bachelor of Business students Jessica Hibbert and Cambell Te-Paa.
The Hertz Memorial scholarship was gifted to AUT by Trilogy International Foundation after the tragic passing of the Hertz’s in 2013, and goes towards helping Māori and Pacific students in AUT’s Business School realise their full potential.
The scholarship sent Jessica and Cambell to the University of North Florida and University of Missouri respectively for one semester.
For Jessica, an alumnus of Westlake Girls High School, it was her first time in the United States.
“When I first arrived, it was a real push out of my comfort zone. American college culture is so different from university life in New Zealand.”
“I had to learn how to do things on my own, but it was all a very exciting process,” she says, “I got involved with the university dance club and rotary club, learnt about American history, and had a whole bunch of experiences I wouldn’t otherwise have had in New Zealand.”
“It was the best experience in my life. I’ve grown up so much as a person during the exchange and deeply treasure all the memories I’ve made with friends during my time at the University of North Florida.”
Her advice to other students considering an overseas exchange is to ask a lot of questions.
“It might be difficult in the beginning but the experience is so worth it,” she says.
Back in New Zealand now, Jessica has just secured her first job at creative event management company, Lime and Soda.
When Cambell, an alumnus of Hato Petera College, first received news that he got the scholarship, he was initially hesitant.
“My personality type thrives on routine and I was afraid of disrupting the comfortable lifestyle I had built for myself. But I spoke to many people around me who encouraged me to not let this opportunity slip by.”
Cambell decided to take a leap of faith. “My first month in America felt like my first year orientation at AUT – everything was very new. However, that actually made the learning experience so much richer.”
“It was difficult being away from home, especially during Christmas, but I’m so appreciative of the unconditional love and support from my friends and family.”
Cambell shares his greatest lesson learnt during the exchange.
“My biggest takeaway is that opportunity is true wealth,” he says.
“My dream is to inspire Māori youth to pursue tertiary education - going to university is more than just getting a degree, it’s opportunities like this that shape who you become and I want to share my experience of this realisation with others.”
AUT Pro-Vice Chancellor of Māori Advancement Pare Keiha, says this was a fantastic opportunity for these two young AUT Māori students.
“We want our Māori students to get out into the world, do amazing things, and use their degrees, in whatever discipline, to positively influence others,” says Professor Keiha.
“Being able to step out of your comfort zone, expand your thinking and then bring that thinking back to New Zealand to effect change is what makes experiences like this worth it. And AUT is proud to be a partner in facilitating such experiences.”