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Freemasons Scholars take on new challenges

If scholarships create opportunities to learn and if learning leads to advanced research and achievements, we can then expect a neuroscientist, a public health specialist and a veterinarian to join the galaxy of prominent people in good time.

Hamiltonian Shwetha George, Aucklander Sudhvir Singh and Kyle Kannan of Rotorua are among those who hold promise, bringing pride and joy to their families, colleagues and the community.

They were among the recipients of the Freemasons Scholarship Programme at a Presentation Ceremony held at the University of Waikato on May 9. They received $6000 each as Scholarship money.

Twenty-five A Grade students from various New Zealand universities received this year’s Freemason Scholarships, valued at $220,000. Among them were seven postgraduate students who qualified for $10,000 each and 25 students who received $6000 each.

Presenting the Scholarships to some of the winners, Olympic Gold winner Sir John Walker said the presentation ceremony provided a great opportunity to meet many young high-achievers, who were on the threshold of great careers to improve the quality of life for people and the environment.

Millions disbursed

Freemasons New Zealand Grand Secretary Lawrence Milton said Freemasons Charity is one of the largest privately funded University Scholarship Programmes in New Zealand.

Since its establishment 33 years ago, Scholarships valued at $3.75 million have been awarded to 954 students from Auckland, Waikato, Massey, Victoria, Canterbury, Lincoln and Otago Universities, he said.

Grand Master Selwyn Cooper said Freemasons have played a leading role in supporting education and research, from the days of the ‘Enlightenment’ to the present day.

“We believe that knowledge and understanding have over this time guided the world on a path to become less intolerant and more accommodating of the views of others. To study the liberal arts and sciences leads to a greater knowledge of the world, of society, and of oneself,” he said.

Most scholars have moved overseas for extended research, which prompted Mr Cooper to appeal to them to return home after completing their studies.

“We have helped university students who are on their way to a diverse range of careers, including academics, anthropologists, ecologists, engineers, geneticists, geologists, lawyers, mathematicians, medical specialists, physicists, psychologists, research scientists and veterinarians. They should not forget their homeland,” he said.

All in the Brain

Shwetha George

A student of the University of Waikato majoring in Biological Sciences this year, Shwetha hopes to join the Brain Research Centre as a part of the Biomedical Honours Programme at the University of Auckland.

“My long cherished goal is to be involved in pharmaceutical developments in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The Honours Programme will be a significant step towards fulfilling this dream,” she said.

She also hopes to complete her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne in Australia and be a part of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the first medical research institute of Australia.

Shwetha has been involved in a major study investigating seizure effects.

As well as being the Secretarial Officer for the University of Waikato’s Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society, Shwetha is a trained Counsellor and a member of the Hamilton Malayalee Association, organising cultural events and programmes to raise awareness on social and community issues.

Photo Caption: Shwetha George with Freemasons Grande Master Selwyn Cooper and a model of a human brain.

Better Public Health

Sudhvir Singh

Clinical Medicine and Public Policy are the twin aspects of Sudhvir Singh’s career path, complimenting which are his Honours Degree in Public Health and medical training from the University of Auckland.

Sudhvir is keen to pursue his postgraduate degree (MA) in Public Health abroad but plans to return to New Zealand for vocational training as a General Practitioner and work as a physician in the public health system.

The Torbay (North Shore, Auckland) resident aims to improve the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.

“I hope to reduce inequalities in the society,” he said.

While at the University, he co-founded and led ‘Medical Student for Global Awareness’ Programme, creating a network for students to have exposure to humanitarian issues through events, campaigns, community activities and international dialogue.

Among the organisations with which he is involved are ‘The UN Youth Association of New Zealand,’ ‘The Asia-Pacific Model UN,’ ‘New Zealand Climate and Health’ and the ‘Auckland University Medical Students Association.’ He is a volunteer at North Shore Hospice and ‘Make Poverty History’ Campaign.

Photo Caption: Olympic Gold Medal winner Sir John Walker presenting the $6000 Scholarship to Sudhvir Singh

Vets veins

Kyle Kannan

References and clarifications on Vet Science would be a ‘family affair’ for Kyle Kannan, whose mother and brother are qualified veterinarians.

This final year Massey University (Palmerston North) student plans to work in Waikato region producing animal medicine.

“There is a shortage of veterinarians in the rural areas,” he said.

He is keen to consolidate his knowledge, gain practical experience, go overseas for a few years to bring new and innovative veterinary practice to New Zealand.

As well as mentoring a second-year student, Kyle works with large stock animals.

Apart from being involved with the Music Ministry at St Patrick’s Parish in Palmerston North, where he plays the violin and leads a Church Youth Group, Kyle is passionate about Badminton, Rugby and Hockey.


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