Pictured above - Seelye Trustees, Seelye scholarship recipients, and school principals at University House, from left: Myles Hogarty, Principal of De La Salle College; Anne Miles, Principal of McAuley High School; Sarah Haydon; James Hill; Song Bae, Kay Ottaway; Maninder Kaur; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor John Morrow; Hazel Celeste; Anton Beaumont; Michelle Chen; Kevin Tang; and Sukhmit Singhrai.
Up to ten talented undergraduate students will be awarded scholarships each year thanks to the new Ralph and Eve Seelye Undergraduate Scholarships, which were established in 2014. In keeping with the values of the original donors, the scholars are being selected on personal attributes such as resilience and the desire to help others to reach their potential, as well as academic merit and financial need.
These new scholarships extend the range of scholarships and fellowships already being funded by the Ralph and Eve Seelye Trust. All reflect the passion that the Seelyes had for education and their wish to give back to the country that they believed had been so good to them.
Hazel Celeste, who attended McAuley High School in 2014, says that being awarded a Seelye Scholarship has motivated her to always perform to the best of her ability. “The scholarship helped boost my confidence, knowing that I could set high goals for myself and reach them eventually, and that nothing is impossible as long as I work hard to get it.”
She is enrolled to study Biomedical Science and hopes to be a medical researcher in the future, a goal which would have delighted the late Ralph and Eve Seelye.
James Hill, a trustee and friend of the Seelyes, recalls how Eve and her parents escaped the persecution of Jews in Vienna in 1938. Eve’s father was a medical doctor and had to retrain in New Zealand, as well as learning a new language. Eve was bright and took to education – and to one of her lecturers, Ralph. The two went on to study at Oxford, Eve later becoming a prominent anaesthetist, and assisting with pioneering heart surgery.
“Eve considered that New Zealand had been fantastic to her and her family and she and Ralph never took their education for granted. They both felt that they wanted to give something back to New Zealand,” James says.
The discussions that followed led to the Ralph and Eve Seelye Trust being established in early 2004. While assisting in general charitable causes, the trust has a strong emphasis on education. It funds eminent researchers to visit the University of Auckland, to share their knowledge with the University and wider communities. Eve was actively involved as a trustee up until her death in November 2010.
In 2012 the trust established a postgraduate scholarship programme to sit alongside the prestigious visiting fellowship programme. Then, in 2013, it commenced an undergraduate programme directly with low-decile schools. The new scholarships are valued at up to $5,000 per year and will assist school leavers who have the potential to succeed at University but who, because of financial hardship, may not otherwise be able to undertake a university degree.
Pictured above: The Principal of De La Salle College, Anne Miles, with two of her former students who are now Seelye scholars Maninder Kaur (left) and Hazel Celeste.