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Scholar returns to give back
Life has gone full circle for 30-year-old First Foundation alumnus Franz Liua’ana, who has now returned to the fold as a mentor.
The former Porirua College student was part of the Class of 2005, and was supported by scholarship partner Gibson Sheat. 

This determined young man excelled academically at school. He was also a talented sportsman with a particular knack for rugby, as well as finding time to be involved in cultural events such as the Polynesian Festival, representing his Samoan culture.

Sources of support

Franz, the youngest of four siblings, managed all this without the direct support of his parents, who resided in Samoa.

Back then, Franz’s goals were to play rugby at a high level, and gain a commerce degree, which he has accomplished with help from his First Foundation scholarship.

“The whole process was a big positive for me. Not only the experience but the confidence boost, has helped me get to where I wanted.”

“The support from my scholarship partner was influential, as well as the guidance from the First Foundation team. Both have really set a solid foundation for my future,” says Franz. 

Gaining experience

After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration from Victoria University in 2010, Franz moved to Sydney where he played semi-professional rugby and worked before returning to New Zealand.

Back in Aotearoa, Franz joined Xero and is now a multimedia specialist for the company.

“I do a bit of video editing, creating educational video content, and photography and videography.

“I’ve been in the role for about a year and a half now, but I’ve been at Xero for close to five years.”

Franz says after his initial involvement with First Foundation 14 years ago, his life has changed dramatically.

“Financially, my scholarship was life-changing. It was also an awesome way to get work experience under my belt at an early stage with a high profile company which looked good on my CV.” 

“I found it was a great way to meet other individuals, who were on a similar journey as well.”

Sharing knowledge

If he could turn back time Franz says he would probably lean on his mentor more.

“I would have a better understanding about what he was there for and how he could have helped me in my professional career. Other than that, I am happy with where I am now and would not want to change much else,” he adds.

After reflecting on his journey, Franz decided to return to First Foundation as a mentor himself.

First Foundation Mentor Franz Liua'ana and his mentee , 2018 scholar Vila Lemanu

“One hundred percent, experience and knowledge through one’s journey should always be shared – someone will benefit from it.”

At the end of last year, Franz began chatting to the First Foundation team about coming on-board as a mentor. He is now mentoring Class of 2018 scholar Vila Lemanu from Wesley College.

He says his objective as a mentor is to see Vila succeed and be happy.

Along with mentoring, Franz hopes he can utilise his love of storytelling, photography and videography as a medium to “creatively share positive vibes” as another way to give back to the society after he was given a helping hand up.

Could you be our next mentor? If you’d like to help a talented student from a disadvantaged background reach their potential, you can find out more here.