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First Foundation turns on practical help

Like all scholars, Shaniyah Munroe, Gawith Dean Scholar 2020, has had to manage many changes in starting university during the pandemic. A trusting mentor relationship and practical meaningful support from First Foundation have made all the difference.

Shaniyah with her mentor Catherine Sullivan

Shaniyah is now in her second year of study for her Bachelor of Science in biology at Victoria University. She has moved into her first flat and worked her first job. When Shaniyah’s laptop started to fail just ahead of the new academic year it caused a huge amount of stress. However, her mentor Catherine Sullivan was there to help. She showed how First Foundation goes the extra mile to ensure scholars genuinely have what they need to succeed.

“Over the summer, I was able to spend some time with my mentor, Catherine. It was just so good to just have a catch up with her. It had been a while because of Covid and everything else that was happening.

“As a mentor, Catherine is just so supportive and makes me feel like comfortable enough to let her know everything that’s happening and tell her about my situation. I had a quite a few worries about getting course books, flatting and everything else. ”

I worked over summer, but internships were disrupted because of Covid, so it was a bit unpredictable.

“Catherine could tell I was struggling financially and that I was very stressed about my laptop. It was second-hand and had started flickering and unexpectedly turning off. I was worried it would do that on a class call, when I needed to get my notes, or on a deadline.”

“Catherine reminded me that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes and made me feel comfortable to reach out. She made it clear she’s got my back.”

Shaniyah says Isaac Etimani, First Foundation’s Engagement Manager, stays in touch to remind scholars that someone is looking out for them.

“He checks up on me and often sends me an email to let me know that if I ever need anything, I should ask. On Catherine’s advice, I explained what was happening, how important my laptop is and why I was struggling to find the funds with everything else.”

“First Foundation stepped up instantly. They explained how they could help and it was a smooth process. I was able to get a brand new laptop which was so amazing. I am just so grateful.”

With online learning still a big part of tertiary study, having a functional laptop is crucial for Shaniyah.

Shaniyah Munroe, Gawith Dean Scholar 2020

“I’m so relieved that I will have a reliable computer for the rest of my studies. All my notes are taken on my laptop, and we get lecture slides electronically.

 I often need to watch lectures online, and there are a lot of video calls and meetings for my course. I also need to access research online and write and submit my essays.

“I can’t imagine what I would have done without this support.”

Now that she’s got the tools she needs to excel, Shaniyah is able to enjoy her study. First Foundation, her mentor and Gawith Dean are delighted to see her being able to make the most of all the opportunities she has.