Lauren Scullin is about to embark on her second year studying speech and language pathology at Canterbury University and says having the Cashin Scholarship was a ‘huge help’.
“Studying is really expensive so it was really helpful having the scholarship to go towards my costs.
“I’m really grateful to the Cashin family and to Ryman for providing me with this opportunity.”
The 19-year-old spent her first year in halls of residence and is now looking forward to moving into a flat with friends.
While the lockdowns threw up some challenges, she maintains a positive outlook for the future.
“It was a bit different with having to do online learning as I do prefer being in class but that hasn’t always happened.
“The subjects are really interesting and I’m really enjoying it.”
She adds: “This year I’m looking forward to meeting new people on my course, and making new friends with people doing the same subjects with me, and living a bit more independently now that I’m flatting.”
Lauren, who volunteered at Ryman’s Bob Owens village in Tauranga for four years, hugely impressed the Cashin family when they were considering the applications for 2021.
She regularly played piano for residents in the care centre, and sometimes sang for them too.
She also developed a special friendship with one resident, Shirley MacDonald.
What started out as an act of service as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Award to read to Shirley, who is blind, turned into a firm friendship which continues to this day.
“She’s a really inspiring person and we have a strong connection and friendship now.
“With Omicron present I will call her on the phone instead but I will stay in contact with her.”
Lauren also volunteers her time at charity Recreate NZ, which supports families who have a child with disabilities.
A year down the track, and despite being busy with studies, she has joined the Christchurch branch of Recreate during term time and then returned to the Bay of Plenty group during the breaks.
“I think it’s important to find time for service, not just for the people I’m doing a service for, but for myself as it makes me feel humble and it gives me great satisfaction,” Lauren says.
Having also done speech and drama since she was six years old, achieving Grade 8 with Honours Plus, and doing her work with older people and children with disabilities, has made Lauren all the more focused on improving people’s ability to communicate.
“Working with older people who can’t always communicate as they used to, along with my experience at Recreate, has allowed me to see both the joy that comes from being understood as well as the frustration that can come from misunderstanding,” she says.
“I aspire to have a career which enables me to use the latest technologies and methods to help other people find their voice, be it through autism, or from having a stroke or another disability.”
The 2022 Cashin Scholarship winner will be announced in the coming weeks.