Three outstanding students who have each overcome significant adversity and disabilities in their lives have been honoured with Goal Setter awards by the Rotary Club of Port Nicholson this morning, (Thursday 7 March). The awards worth $3,500 each were presented to the three students by the Governor of the Reserve Bank Dr Adrian Orr at a special breakfast function attended by over two hundred people at Te Papa. The Goal Setter awards is a marquee event for the Club, says event organiser Jane Paterson, and honours students who have faced considerable adversity in their path to academic success.


Goal setter awards

(from left – standing) Bev Wells, President of the Rotary Club of Port Nicholson, Adrian Orr, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand who presented the awards, and awardees, Sean Ainsworth, Hineana Tihore, and (seated) Nathan Harris.

“We are proud to honour such students, and always humbled by their personal stories,” says Jane. “The club has been running the awards scheme for 28 years now, and every year we are grateful to our club members, supporters and sponsors who generously contribute funds to enable these students to continue their studies and go on to make contributions to New Zealand.”

This year’s recipients are:

·  Sean Ainsworth has several disabilities which have left him bed bound at times. He has a strong interest in cyberwarfare. He has completed a BSc(Hons), and a Masters of International Relations and has now started his PhD.

·  Nathan Russell seriously damaged his spinal cord at 16 while playing basketball and had to find new ways to study, particularly in lab situations. He is about to complete an MSc in Clinical Immunology focusing on better understanding of Multiple Sclerosis treatments.

·  Hineana Tihore left school without enough qualifications to get into tertiary education. She worked for ten years before starting her studies, and with the help of many friends and mentors, she is now completing a Batchelor of Communication from Massey but wants to go on to teach linguistics                       and cross-cultural communication.

Club President Bev Wells said the Goal Setter awards were a major event on the club’s calendar, and the club was especially proud to recognise those who have not been put off by their life circumstances, but have planned, set goals and then worked hard to achieve them.
“We are recognising and saluting the values these students espouse, as well as the achievements they have attained,” she said.
For further information, please contact  Jane Paterson on 021 220 8061
More details on the recipients follows:
            Sean Ainsworth
Sean arrived in New Zealand with his family in 2017 having completed most of his secondary education and a BSc (Hons) from the London School of Economics by distance education. His disabilities, which include Ehlers-Danlos Type 3, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Narcolepsy, meant at times he was unable to get out of bed but now with the help of daily physiotherapy Sean has been able to attend “classes” for the first time in over a decade. He completed his Master of International Relations (with distinction) in 2018 and has now begun a PhD programme. His interest is in cyberwarfare and in addition to his studies he is the student rep on the NZ Institute of International Affairs and also volunteers at the SPCA.
            Nathan Russell
Nathan’s spinal cord injury happened while playing basketball. As a 16 year old at the time, he was an Under 18 New Zealand Rep and involved in coaching.  Ultimately, Nathan would like to study medicine, but his circumstances have meant his not taking the taking the traditional route. He’s completed a BSc in Biology and will this year complete a MSc in Clinical Immunology focusing on better understanding of Multiple Sclerosis treatments and on improving the quality of life for the sufferers of MS. One of the major challenges Nathan has faced has been in adapting to working in a lab environment where he’s had to invent ways to study, learn, research and convey information to remain in an active position equal to his peers within his area of study.
Hineana Tihore
Hineana is completing a Bachelor of Communication at Massey and she will need to complete Masters’ and PhD degrees in order to reach her ultimate goal to lecture in linguistics and cross cultural communication. Hineana left Wainuiomata High School without university entrance and worked for over a decade in service industries but always knew there had to be something more. Fitting the criteria for drop out students, she has developed strategies to make sure she is not one of the statistics; seeking and receiving academic support and intentionally meeting with friends and mentors to receive emotional and spiritual support are helping her persevere with her studies. She is the Maori representative on the Student Executive and has pioneered a Christian Club at the campus.