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Loshaunce helps create better futures

Loshaunce Leaso is a Mike Ross 2021 Scholar who works hard each day for a better future. That means navigating some big transitions into unfamiliar territories. At the same time, he’s aware of how fast the world is changing and is helping others do the same. He spent his break helping First Foundation consider how it could make its own transition to a sustainable future.

Loshaunce Leaso working with the First Foundation team

Loshaunce working with the team at First Foundation, including Kirk Sargent and Amanda Gilchrist.

University was a big transition

Loshaunce grew up in Manurewa and is one of five children. His mother is Tongan, and his father is more than half Māori. Loshaunce has always been a leader – involved in student council from primary school. He’s an accomplished sportsperson, playing basketball and rugby and competing in athletics. Furthermore, he sung in the Promise Keeper’s men’s choir and volunteered for St Vincent De Paul. Despite his wide range of experience in the community and with school achievements, university life was totally different from anything he’d known.

“During the first couple of weeks, I felt a bit lost. I’d come from classes of 30 people to lectures of hundreds and hundreds of students. I felt as though everyone knew what they were doing except for me. I’d look around, and everyone was typing away, or they’d done readings. I often felt like I’d missed something.

“It was pretty hard — a big step up in terms of being responsible for yourself. There was no one telling you, ‘You need to do this by this day, and you need to prepare for this class and do this assignment.’ You’re all on your own. And the number of readings…!”

Mentoring makes connections

His mentor, Mark Hudson, helped him find his feet. “He told me what I was feeling was completely normal – you might think you’re the odd one out, but it’s normal for first years to feel like that. I also spoke to the lecturers, who have been really helpful and encouraging.”

It didn’t take long for Loshaunce to surround himself with a good network of friends and start looking for how he could help others. During his break, he came to the First Foundation offices to work on our sustainability.

Kirk Sargent says, “Our organisation is all about helping young people create a better future for themselves, their family and their communities. Our behaviour must be environmentally responsible so we’re contributing to a sustainable future for the next generations.”

As Loshaunce is pursuing a conjoint law and commerce degree, he was well suited to investigating and evaluating the activities of our day-to-day operations. He could review what might have the most impact and where we could improve.

Time to step up on sustainability

By the time our current scholars reach their mid-twenties, the world will have burned through its remaining ‘carbon budget’ unless we make drastic changes. The choices we make now and in the next few years will reverberate around the world for hundreds, even thousands, of years.

First Foundation is a small team with a fairly small footprint. But there’s always more to be done. Kirk says, “We’re looking forward to continuously improving our performance from a sustainability perspective. We’ll see new opportunities to reduce our impact and improve our processes. We’re also looking for ways to make it easier for our scholars to understand and adopt a sustainability mindset to carry with them.”

Loshaunce feels fortunate to plot his path

And as for Loshaunce, he’s also plotting a path to a great future. “I’ve found an area of law that really appeals to me. Although it’s fairly niche, my mentor has helped me with some introductions. I was able to speak to a partner at a specialist firm, and in turn, they’ve offered to help me make further connections.

Loshaunce is immensely grateful but takes nothing for granted. “I applied for my scholarship alongside some of my mates, and all of them needed support. But I was lucky. And I’m prepared to uphold my end, whether turning down invitations to parties or sacrificing hours of sleep to ensure my work is complete and up to the right standard.”

“Loshaunce is certainly hitting the mark. And First Foundation has loved him inspiring us, and others, to do the same
in our pursuit of better futures.”