Scholarship offers $1500 towards studies

Well deserved . . . Altrusan Raewyn Hutton (left) chats with Hanna Devries, the latest recipient of the Timaru Altrusa Scholarship. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Being awarded Altrusa’s education scholarship last year has enabled Hanna Devries to focus on doing well in her studies.

The 23-year-old lives in Twizel with her partner and their 7-month-old chocolate Labrador puppy, and is working at Twizel Area School while studying towards her bachelor of science, majoring in psychology.

Raised in Southburn, about 20 minutes from Timaru, Ms Devries attended Craighead Diocesan School and then Lincoln University, intending to become a rural accountant.

‘‘One and a-half years into my study, I decided this was not the career for me and I wanted a career that was more to do with directly helping people.’’

She returned to Timaru where she worked two parttime jobs, one at CCS Disability Action and one as a teacher aide within the learning support team at Mountainview High School.

‘‘I hoped these jobs would give me a better idea as to whether I really did want a career to do with helping people. It was apparent to me right from the beginning of my work for these two places that I wanted to pursue a career along these lines.’’

Ms Devries spent the next three and a-half years gaining experience and developing her skills supporting young people in various situations.

‘‘Throughout my work at Mountainview, I worked with numerous specialists such as educational psychologists, speech language therapists and social workers, and it was through this that I discovered I would like to do something similar to these people.’’

She was given the opportunity to do some teaching for students with special needs with a ‘‘limited authority to teach’’.

‘‘I enjoyed it so much, work never felt like work! This encouraged me to look into ways I could use my passion and make it a career.

‘‘I am highly motivated from the personal satisfaction I get from helping people. It is an amazing feeling knowing you have made a difference in someone’s life and I hope the path I am going down now will allow me to make a difference in people’s lives.’’

Colleagues encouraged Ms Devries to look into courses that would allow her to further her career, and at the end of 2022 she began studying a bachelor of science, majoring in psychology.

‘‘I was a bit concerned about starting another degree and not finishing it but I pushed myself to give it a go and I do not regret it one bit. I am doing my degree part-time by distance through the University of Canterbury. The distance nature of my studies works perfectly for me as it allows me to study from Twizel while still working at the same time.

‘‘My long-term goal is to become a registered psychologist, which takes a minimum of five years to achieve. First, I must complete my bachelor’s degree, then a postgraduate qualification followed by getting my practice certificate.

‘‘I have taken a particular interest in child and family psychology as well as forensic psychology, but am keeping my options open for now. I am currently about to finish my second year of study and am enjoying it as much as ever.’’

The scholarship had been a huge help financially, allowing her to pay for multiple papers, Ms Devries said.

‘‘It is a long-road to become a registered psychologist, which also means it is expensive. It has taken the pressure off working and I can now focus more of my time on doing well in my studies.’’

She applied for the scholarship with not a lot of hope of actually getting it, she said.

‘‘I felt like an ordinary student and I didn’t believe I deserved it above anyone else, but decided I had nothing to lose in applying. So for anyone thinking they will never be considered, apply!

‘‘Finding out I had been chosen was really exciting and I was very surprised. To some degree, it felt like I was being rewarded for my hard work and was proud of my achievement.’’

It was amazing to see how passionate Altrusans were about helping the community and giving their time, Ms Devries said.

‘‘Everyone was friendly and there was a lovely feeling within the room. It made me even more grateful for the scholarship knowing how hard the members had worked in order to give someone this opportunity.

‘‘I felt this really aligned with what I would like to do in the future, and when time allows later on in my life, I would definitely consider giving back to them.’’