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$40,000 smile for Veterinary Scholars

Veterinary students studying at Massey University have reason to smile with the announcement of a new scholarship that acknowledges consistently high grades, completing a degree and voluntary involvement in their local communities.

From left: Kelly Tissink (Whitby,Porirua); Sarah Clews (Palmerston North); Jessica Harris (Tamahere, Hamilton); Freemasons Grand Master, Mark Winger; Henry Yule (Hawkes Bay); Nicola Wichter (Palmerston North).

Freemasons Grand Master Mark Winger today (subs 10 May) announced the Lawson-Smith Freemasons Education Trust at Parliament’s Legislative Council Chamber. The will trust provide $40,000 each year in scholarships with one Veterinary Technology student and four Veterinary Science students receiving the inaugural scholarships.

“We administer a number of charitable trusts set up over the years by Freemasons—from all walks of life—who are keen to make a contribution to education, making a difference now that will influence the community and country in a positive way in the future.  Men like the late Maxwell Lawson-Smith, a Freemason with over 50 years’ service,” says Mr Winger.

Associate Professor Jenny Weston, Dean of Veterinary Sciences at Massey University, said the Veterinary School is thrilled with the scholarship and grateful to Freemasons.

“Veterinarians and veterinary para-professionals are valued community members, particularly in rural areas, and most give back generously to their community through their work.

“Graduates often move to a new rural town for their first job, so participating in sporting, cultural and other local activities is important in becoming part of the community.

“The costs of veterinary training are high and most of our students graduate with debt of $80- 100,000, so any financial support makes a big difference,” she says.

Mr Winger also noted that the charitable activities of Freemasons extend beyond these scholarships.

“Each year New Zealand society benefits from Freemasons around the country—and through their bequests—to the tune of some $10 million. Among those we support are iconic organisations such as the Order of St John, the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind and the Royal Society of New Zealand, as well as long-term medical research programmes at Auckland and Otago universities.”

Lawson-Smith Freemasons Education Trust

The Lawson-Smith Freemasons Education Trust, provides scholarships to students in their fourth or final year of a Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree and to students in their third and final year of a Bachelor of Veterinary Technology. Students must also have consistently high grades and actively volunteer and support their community.

Sarah Clews–Veterinary Science 

Sarah, who comes from Palmerston North, is heavily involved in the student and professional community while studying at Massey University for a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. In 2014 she was sent to Vietnam to be involved with epidemiological research into Foot and Mouth Disease. A year later, she worked in Myanmar with the government’s Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department in outbreak investigation and vaccination programmes across the country. Sarah has organised and managed trips for veterinary students to attend an externship with the South African Veterinary Association, working with wildlife and stray populations, and has worked with Massey staff in welfare research. Sarah intends to dedicate her life to her passion—the welfare of animals.


Jessica Harris–Veterinary Science 

Jess, who comes from Tamahere, Hamilton, is currently in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Veterinary Science at Massey University. After attaining her Bachelor of Science majoring in zoology and a Postgraduate Diploma in wildlife management from the University of Otago, Jess travelled extensively overseas and within New Zealand. She managed a wildlife park in Scotland and worked for the Livestock Improvement Corporation in New Zealand. She is also a keen netball and volleyball player who has participated in both at the regional level.


Nicola Wichtel–Veterinary Science 

Initially Nicola was drawn to Veterinary Science to work with companion animals. Now she is completing her final year of a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. As she progressed through her degrees, Nicola gained top grades while becoming increasingly interested in production systems and their impact on the communities and economies they serve. She feels passionately that agricultural sustainability and environmental stewardship are areas in which New Zealand can become a global leader. Nicola was born in Palmerston North and moved to Canada at age five with her family, but returned regularly to visit her extended New Zealand family. A global citizen, she thinks of Canada and New Zealand as “home”. As Nicola states: “Early on in my schooling, I decided that I was going to make the most of the experiences that presented themselves to me.” Once she graduates, Nicola intends to work in New Zealand with a clear focus on promoting the diverse role of veterinarians within the local and global community.


Henry Yule–Veterinary Science

Growing up on a family run sheep and beef farm in the Hawkes Bay and having a particular interest in large animal medicine—whether for dairy, sheep, beef or equine—Henry is in his final year of a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. Henry has been a Massey scholar every year since starting his studies at Massey, and consistently achieves top grades. Driven to succeed in all aspects of his life, Henry is as much at home on the hockey field as in the lecture theatre. He is also gaining practical experience throughout New Zealand and, after graduating, intends to travel within the United Kingdom before returning home to work as a veterinarian.


Kelly Tissink–Veterinary Technology 

At year end Kelly, currently living in Whitby, Porirua, will have attained a Bachelor of Veterinary Technology and is looking to move into a role in veterinary practice management. While at university Kelly has volunteered her time by giving back to her community. She has been a Hill’s Pet Nutrition representative, and worked with New Zealand Riding for the Disabled. Further afield, two years ago Kelly volunteered in Laos with Volunteer Eco Students Abroad, including helping at the Elephant Conservation Centre in the Sayaboury district. Kelly has also supported events on campus. She has undertaken a pilot trial for the university’s Wildlife Oil Response Unit and been a tour guide helping potential and newly enrolled students. This year, Kelly is a Residential Advisor at Massey University’s Fergusson Hall.