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Leni Leota,
First Foundation Trustee Award 2022

Leni Leota, Rutherford Rede Scholar, was the deserving winner of this year’s Trustee Award. 

This year’s finalists took extraordinary paths to reach incredibly high standards. Leni is a true example of the transformational power of the First Foundation Scholarship programme. She says Studying Medicine has been everything she expected and more.

First in family

“I will be the first to graduate from University and the first doctor in my whole family. This is such a big achievement for me, and I am sure that my parents and grandparents would be so proud. They have worked so hard and sacrificed so much for me to be here, and I am grateful that this was the pathway I took.

“I’ve learned so much about the human anatomy, physiology, genetics, and the healthcare system in NZ. However, the most important lessons that had the biggest impression on me were the inequalities present in our communities, such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and the disparities between the health of non-Māori and non-Pacific compared to that of Māori and Pacific groups.

“As a Pasifika medical student, these three years have opened my eyes to the struggles and suffering of many people in the community.”

Closing the gap for her community

“There are multiple factors that play into improving someone’s health and wellbeing. In saying that, I will try my best to do my part. This has further motivated me to become a doctor so that someday I can make a difference in someone’s life, lessen someone’s suffering, and work alongside my peers and the community to close the gap in the disparities we see today. 

“I just want to say a big thank you to everyone at First Foundation for the work that you do for students like me. Thank you for providing support throughout the most difficult transition we have to go through as young adults. Not only has it been helpful for me but also my family.”

A lifelong relationship

“I can probably speak for all First Foundation recipients when I say how much we appreciate this opportunity for a better future. I hope to continue to be a part of First Foundation and give back in whatever way I can.”

All of this year’s Trustee Award nominees were outstanding. You can hear their stories here.