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Bay of Plenty Polytechnic graduate Kelly Ratana joins an elite group of New Zealanders awarded Fulbright scholarships after it was announced last night that she was the recipient of one of the 26 highly coveted awards for 2012.
Kelly, who graduated in 2011 with a Graduate Diploma in Marine Studies, will complete a Master of Science in Marine Science degree, specialising in marine and freshwater sciences at Hawai’i Pacific University in Honolulu. As well as her recent post graduate qualification, Kelly holds a BA and a BSc from the University of Auckland.
In Wellington for the awards, Kelly said she was feeling a little overwhelmed. “It’s a tremendous honour to receive the Fulbright scholarship,” Kelly said. “I wouldn’t have got here without the incredible support of family. I’d like to really encourage other young Māori into pursuing this because it’s such a great opportunity.”
Amongst the list of high-ranking New Zealand universities producing Fulbright scholars this year is one polytechnic - Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, who are proud to have helped Kelly on her academic journey.
Dr Alan Hampton, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Chief Executive, was delighted with the news. “Kelly is an outstanding young woman, graduating from the Polytechnic’s Marine Studies graduate programme and now able to pursue her Masters at the elite Hawai’i Pacific University,” said Dr Hampton.
“Hawai’i Pacific University is doubly significant for Kelly in that it has one third of its student population from 100 countries outside of the United States and has an international reputation for sustainability and indigenous studies. Kelly undoubtedly is a future potential leader in her field and in Māoridom.”
The Fulbright Awards are very prestigious awards enabling promising young New Zealand / Aotearoa graduates to undertake post-graduate study or research at US institutions. The programme of international educational exchange was an initiative of American Senator J. William Fulbright, who in the aftermath of World War II believed that mutual understanding between different countries and cultures was crucial to ensure a peaceful future for the world.
In Senator Fulbright’s own words, the Fulbright programme aims “to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship.”
The more than 300,000 Fulbright alumni worldwide include heads of state, cabinet ministers, ambassadors, politicians, judges, heads of corporations, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors and teachers. Well known New Zealanders include former Prime Minister Sir Wallace Rowling, historian Michael King, author Witi Ihimaera and academic Bill Manhire.
Fulbright grantees make the most of their exchanges to get to know and understand a different country and culture, to advance themselves academically or professionally and to make lifelong friendships and professional relationships. Many look back on their Fulbright exchange as a life-changing experience and a defining moment of their career.