At Go Overseas, every day at work is a pretty great day. We work hard, we love what we do, and we're committed to our mission. We get to help educate interested readers about traveling the world, connect people with program alumni and companies to help find the right opportunity for them, and every once in a while -- we get to change someone's life.
It might not seem like it, but the scholarship campaigns we run each year -- to encourage studying abroad in New Zealand and Ireland, as well as through our own scholarship program -- are a big project. Several members of the team work hard for weeks before, during, and after the campaign, putting in long hours to make it all possible.
There's one moment that makes all that hard work worth it. Once we've received the applications, reviewed all the finalists, and chosen the winner, two Go Overseas team members get to fly to that student's school and surprise them. This year, our winner was Hailey Suina, who attends the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Hailey is a creative writing and indigenous studies major at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). She was selected from 3,368 applicants to receive the $15,000 (USD) scholarship. The scholarship will provide her with the unique opportunity to experience New Zealand, a place she’s wanted to visit since childhood.
Traveling to New Zealand and immersing herself in Maori culture has been a dream of Hailey’s since childhood; she explains this in her application essay, “As a child, I remember my mother and I running our fingers across a world map, tracing the paths that our ancestors journeyed to their homelands. My mother ran her finger across the great blue of the ocean down towards the bottom of the world where she stopped at two islands. “Here,” she said, “is where the Old Ones traveled the farthest.” I learned later that this was New Zealand, Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud."
Hailey will be attending Auckland University of Technology (AUT). While at AUT, Hailey plans to take courses within the indigenous studies program, complementing both her studies at home and her community involvement as a Native American woman of the Cochiti Pueblo Indian Reservation.
We followed up with Hailey in the few weeks since she won her scholarship and the reality has started to set in.
"I still can't believe that I have won! It feels like a dream," she said. "I had pretty much convinced myself that I had no chance of winning since I was competing against thousands of other students who all share the same dream of having an adventure in New Zealand. I'm so incredibly thankful to have been chosen to receive this scholarship. It means so much to me that I was selected by a group of people who support my lifelong dream of traveling to New Zealand."
We also asked Hailey what she was most looking forward to in New Zealand. Her response was two-fold. One part, we expected: "I'm definitely looking forward to experiencing the beautiful culture of the Maori people and being immersed in their world. As a young Native American woman, it is always a blessing to be able to meet with other Indigenous people and be apart of their community," Hailey said.
She continued, "I'm also looking forward to a change of scenery! Coming from a desert landscape, it will be amazing to see all the lush greenery and to be so close to the ocean!"
Hailey's strong application and creative photo (pictured above) helped her stand above the thousands of students who applied this year, and her mission -- as evidenced in her essay -- helped our team and the team at Education New Zealand feel confident she will be a great ambassador for New Zealand for years to come:
“Only in New Zealand is there formal education that is centered around the teachings of traditional cultural values and beliefs. I want to develop my personal vision of strengthening and revitalizing my tribe’s language, traditional governance, and values by applying the Maori people’s cultural perseverance and leadership. Upon returning to Cochiti, I plan to share the knowledge I acquire overseas with my tribal elders of the council to show them how to bring effective change to our community and maintain our cultural ways of life.”
You can check out the video we made from our team flying down to surprise Hailey in person:
You can check out our scholarship resource page to learn more about other scholarships we offer. We have a resource on study abroad scholarships and grants that you might find helpful too.
Thanks to all the applicants who applied, and our partners: Education New Zealand and STA travel.