Why First Foundation

Make an Impact >

Schools and Students




Richard revels in tech training

Richard Tong, Auckland Transport Scholar 2020, has found his place in the world by exploring a digital pathway and developing his skills for a future in the tech industry. He shows First Foundation scholars are blazing trails far beyond the traditional professions.

Richard’s family escaped war-torn Cambodia to New Zealand, where they had to start from scratch, even with the language needed for daily life. It embedded a fiery dedication in Richard, who worked hard at school, achieving academic success and giving to the community through Unicef and Amnesty International, as Secretary in PHS Youth Health Council, in the School Choir and in many other groups.¬†¬†

Thanks to a First Foundation scholarship, Richard is now studying at Techtorium, the New Zealand Institute of Information Technology. Techtorium offers NZQA courses in Computer Engineering and Software Development, and Richard says he hasn’t looked back since beginning his learning there.

Top tech talent

“Studying at Techtorium has definitely allowed me to engage and perform. I feel like this is where I am meant to be. For some of the projects that I have completed, I have managed to score 11/10’s alongside ending on a high note with an A+ (100/100) on my end-of-term assessment. I have also decided to step up and become one of the student reps within my course as well!”

Taking part in Auckland Bioengineering Institute’s Virtual Internship has been another highlight that gave Richard a wider perspective on the possibilities for the future.

“I found this to be an interesting experience to be a part of, and it definitely does provide that insight into how it is in the real world where projects have their deadlines that need to be met.”

Richard has faced new learning and experiences at every turn. However, his First Foundation mentor, Caleb Watson has proven to be an important support.


The gift of guidance

“One highlight would be the immense support that Caleb has given me when I’ve had issues with specific things. He’s been able to provide guidance from his own personal experience. I’ve found that we share similarities here and there in interests and situations.


“I appreciate how Caleb is so open to anything in discussion. He’s able to give things to me straight up without needing to sugarcoat them. I look forward to many more years of having him by my side and providing wisdom and guidance through my journey to success.”

Richard has also appreciated the wider support that First Foundation gives its scholars.

“First Foundation has made my journey easier by providing opportunities to mix with other scholars and create those networks. Especially the communication workshop with Allison Mooney, which shed a lot of light in terms of understanding different personalities and seeing what a lot was spoken off occurring in reality.”

What’s next for Richard? There’s a fair chance that he’s destined for a career that has hardly even been invented yet! Wherever his tech journey takes him, we know he’ll continue to work hard and keep stepping up.