Two Unitec | Te Pūkenga students were recently recognised for their commitment and drive as recipients of New Zealand Chinese Building Industry Association (NZBIA) Excellence Scholarships. This annual award was established by the organisation to financially assist and recognise excellent students in fields of study relevant to the building industry.
Charlie Saumalu: Overcoming challenges to pursue his dreams
Charlie Saumalu's journey to receiving the NZCBIA Excellence Scholarship has been marked by determination and resilience. Hailing from American Samoa, Charlie came to New Zealand on the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) Apprenticeship Programme, which enabled him to pursue his studies in New Zealand. He was initially rejected for the programme but didn't give up. He reapplied and, to his delight, was accepted.
Currently in his first year of the two-year New Zealand Diploma in Surveying at Unitec | Te Pūkenga, Charlie is thriving. He says winning the NZCBIA Excellence Scholarship has only started to sink in, but he is determined to make the most of the opportunity.
“When I got the call to say I’d won the NZCBIA Excellence Scholarship, I first thought they had the wrong number. I’m still in a bit of shock. I am very grateful and want to thank my Heavenly Father above for this opportunity.
“Coming to New Zealand to study has already been an incredible experience, and I feel immensely blessed and proud to have found such as welcoming and diverse community of teachers and fellow students here at Unitec.”
With proud parents back at home, and a job with the American Samoan Government already secured after his studies, Charlie is intent on working hard to make the most of his time at Unitec | Te Pūkenga.
Charlie is an active member of his community and devotes his weekends to attending church and playing volleyball during the week. The scholarship will be put to good use, he says, helping cover his study materials and the cost of studying and living abroad.
Qingbang Cen: A scholar with a vision
Qingbang Cen, another recipient of this year’s NZCBIA Excellence Scholarship, brings a passion for Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), AutoCAD, Civil 3D, and other cutting-edge technologies to his studies.
It’s his fascination with these technologies and their applications in land development, construction, urban planning, and mapping which drove him to pursue a New Zealand Diploma in Surveying.
Like Charlie, Qingbang's selection for the scholarship came as a surprise. He attributes his success to his unwavering academic commitment and active involvement in extracurricular activities.
When asked about his future aspirations, Qingbang has his eyes set on a role as a land development engineer and engineering surveyor. “I plan to stay engaged in lifelong learning, ensuring I am always at the forefront of land surveying practices, regulations, and technology.”
Qingbang is not just academically driven, but also finds time to give back to the community. He is involved with industry and community associations including as a student member of Survey and Spatial New Zealand, where he stays up to date with industry happenings. Additionally, he is the Deputy President of the New Zealand Association of Cantonese Incorporated, helping support local community initiatives, and is the former Vice President of Education at Eden-Epsom Toastmasters’ Club, where he was awarded Toastmaster of the Year in 2022.
The NZCBIA Excellent Scholarship will help ease the financial aspects of Qingbang's education journey, covering travel, stationeries, and textbooks, he says. “More importantly, the scholarship boosted my confidence and motivation in my educational path and professional growth in the future.”
Congratulations to Charlie and Qingbang for their well-deserved achievements.
Supporting excellence in the building industry
Since 2018, the NZCBIA Excellence Scholarship has been instrumental in recognising and financially assisting excellent students in fields relevant to the building industry. It was established with the aim of supporting and increasing the number of qualified professionals in this sector. The scholarship is open to students in their first or second year of studies and continues to make a significant impact on the lives and dreams of students like Charlie and Qingbang.