It is difficult for Gala Morris to put into words the blessing that receiving the Grace Kay Award has been for her.
She put the money from the Award to immediate practical use, buying textbooks, food, and credit for her AT HOP card.
But Gala says that being acknowledged for striving towards academic success despite financial hardship is just as important as the financial aspect of the award.
“To me, that is infinitely more rewarding than money.”
The award is especially poignant for Gala, because she is on her way to becoming the first person from her family to graduate from university. It has been a long journey to this point, growing up with a solo mother who worked three jobs to support Gala and her brother.
The Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science conjoint student was visiting her mother in Hawke’s Bay when she received news of her success, and says that “my mother, who saw me shed a tear of elation when I received this acknowledgement, can affirm this”.
Gala is majoring in Ancient History, English and Biology, and has her eye firmly set on postgraduate study in Ancient History. She has been laying plans for this with Dr Jeremy Armstrong.
“I get really giddy about the formation of civilisation, and would love to write a dissertation that looks at how civilisations like those in Rome and Egypt came into being.”
Her interest in Ancient History was piqued by her brother, who played a lot of Age of Mythology, and would give Gala his Horrible Histories books. She had never really expected to attend university, but was encouraged by excellent grades in Year 13 Classics, and a particularly inspirational teacher at Takapuna Grammar.
She has been sustaining these excellent grades at university, and takes this as a sign that she is studying what she should be.
“I love learning, and I am really enjoying studying at the University of Auckland.”
The Grace Kay Awards were established in 1993 under the terms of the will of the late Grace Edith Meliora Kay, who wished to assist women to complete the Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Auckland.
Grace completed a BA in History and worked as a teacher before marrying a farmer and settling into the Kay family homestead, seven miles out of Te Awamutu.
She began managing the farm after her husband’s death in 1952, and moved back to Auckland in the late 1960s, where she became an active investor in the sharemarket, and a familiar presence at the annual general meetings for public companies.
In her will, she bequeathed all of her property to her trustees with the request to found certain scholarships to enable deserving students to obtain or complete a university education which they would otherwise be unlikely to obtain without pecuniary aid.
This led to the establishment of five scholarships, including the Grace Kay Award that Gala recently received.
Gala is extremely grateful that Grace used her will to establish this award.
“I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to Grace. Not only for the financial relief that this will give me, but also for the blessing of acknowledgement. You have helped me to pave the way to my graduation and, in turn, my future.”