Competition run by Rotary Tauranga during Tauranga Careers Expo.  Student wins $1000 toward future from Rotary grant - (Sunlive article)
Bella Ritai and Joan McKirdy
A Tauranga student is receiving a $1000 grant towards her future university studies, thanks to a competition run by Rotary Club of Tauranga earlier this year.
Otūmoetai College student Bella Ritai says she first entered the competition in August, after seeing it on display at the Tauranga Careers Expo.
"I didn't actually expect to win it," says Bella. "To enter they asked me to give them my name, phone number and a filled out form asking what I would do if I did win the money.
"I told them I would use it for my future studies at university, and I was alone when I got a phone call from the Rotary club telling me I had won.  Bella says her first reaction was to run out of her room and let her parents know the good news.
"They were so excited. It was very exciting for all of us.
I'm planning to go to Victoria University down in Wellington and want to use the money to go towards studying marketing, communications and criminology."
Bella says the $1000 grant from the Rotary Club of Tauranga will firstly go towards her books, classes and anything else she may need before heading down to study.
"Finding out made me want to work harder towards my study and put this money to good use. I was so surprised when I won, I have never won anything like this before so it means a lot to me."
Wellington became Bella's top choice after visiting her sister who studied at Victoria. "She talked about how much she liked it there. Wellington is also just such a cool place to live in. It's not too far away from home, but at the same time it will be an amazing place to be independent and start investing in my future."
Bella adds she wasn't sure if she wanted to go to university earlier in the year, but after looking into different courses she found topics she was interested in, and wanted to learn more about.
"I think it is so awesome the rotary club is doing this sort of thing. Winning it makes me want to try hard in my studies, and put the money towards something good.
"It's an amazing thing they're doing for people, along with giving back to kids in the community."
Rotary Club of Tauranga member and competition organiser Joan McKirdy says the competition was designed to help students with their university costs, and to raise awareness about what rotary does for youth"
We really wanted to help those in the community that needed the support, and will put it to good use," says Joan.
"When we saw Bella's application she told us she was going to put the money directly into her future, and that's why we chose her.
"On top of that, we also want the youth to understand the good that rotary does in the community." Joan adds she hopes initiatives like the competition will help raise more awareness about rotary, and further propel students into their future endeavours.