Two caregivers from Bob Owens and Bruce McLaren Retirement Villages are looking forward to seeing their dreams to study paramedicine come true after being named Graeme Rabbits Scholarship winner.
Manuela Jaramillo Gonzalez from Bruce McLaren is this year’s scholarship winner while Rhianne Overell from Bob Owens is the 2020 winner, after the family of Graeme Rabbits selected them as winners for their outstanding applications.
The scholarship will see each of them receive three years of funding and support from Ryman towards achieving their dream goal whist also serving as a tribute to the construction worker who lost his life on site in 2018.
For Manuela, 26, it is a dream come true.
Having already studied in her home country of Colombia to become a qualified physiotherapist, she decided to come to New Zealand to improve her English.
Arriving in New Zealand with enough money to cover her first rent payment, she immediately looked for any work she could find, doing both hospitality and healthcare roles until she became a caregiver in the resthome at Bruce McLaren in October 2019.
Being at the village and working through the stressful time of lockdown gave her a new impetus for further self-improvement, with her goal now to achieve a Bachelor in Health Science majoring in paramedics.
“I know the healthcare field is my field,” she says.
“I love the feeling you get when you help people and you get that feeling a lot here in the resthome. You know you are being useful in someone else’s life.
“And achieving this qualification will allow me to help tons of people.”
Rhianne after receiving the happy news
Rhianne, who has worked at the village for five years, had been studying for her Bachelor of Nursing in 2019 also with the aim of becoming a paramedic eventually.
It was her colleague who suggested she apply for the scholarship.
“Our receptionist Janet encouraged me every day to apply saying I was so good at the job and will be a great nurse, so I thought I’ve got nothing to lose!”
In her application Rhianne explained how much she enjoyed working at the village, and how she juggles that with her other job as a vaccinator at a GP clinic plus voluntary work for St John.
Despite the challenge of managing a busy schedule, she does it knowing it will all help with her ultimate goal.
“I knew it would help me working in healthcare so I thought I’d immerse myself completely!” she says.
Rhianne had applied for the 2020 scholarship but with the pandemic playing havoc last year, the winner was only announced this year, which certainly added to the surprise.
Both of them were given the news of their scholarship win by their village managers with great effect.
“I have never won anything before so it was a big surprise, and I thought ‘that’s so nice!’,” says Rhianne.
“I’m proud to know I’ll be doing my bit to keep Graeme’s memory alive and I’m very grateful to the family for choosing me.”
Manuela with her fellow team members after her wonderful surprise news
Meanwhile, Bruce McLaren manager Chantelle Hand delivered the news to Manuela in person in front of some of the leadership and care centre teams, initially making her think it was a resident’s 100th birthday.
“Then as soon as I heard the word scholarship I realised what it meant and my heart was beating and I just started crying and thinking I had to tell my mum!”
Once she explained to her mum back home in Colombia that the reason for the very early morning call and floods of tears was very good news, it all started to sink in.
“I think it’s one of the few times I felt on top of the world, it’s such a big help.”
Ryman Group People Development Manager Miranda Barnes said both Manuela and Rhianne had been an ‘absolute delight’ to engage with.
“They stood out due to their passion for helping others and wanting to improve their life. However, what makes them both unique and truly special is their humility, resilience and positivity in the face of continued adversity.
“They connect us back to what is great about Ryman: care, kindness and making a difference to people’s lives, both within our teams and our residents.”