Two students are first to be awarded £10,000 scholarship awards in memory of Sir Tom Cowie (From The Northern Echo)
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Two students are first to be awarded £10,000 scholarship awards in memory of Sir Tom Cowie
TWO students have been selected as recipients of the first ever Sir Tom Cowie Memorial Scholarship Awards receiving 10,000 each to support their academic studies.
Michael Spowart and Jade McKenna, who are both about to begin the final year of their degrees at Sunderland University, are winners of the award, which was set up in memory of the Wearside-born entrepreneur who died last year, aged 89.
Sir Tom was a long-term supporter of the University and believed passionately in its principles of affording those with talent, regardless of background, the opportunity to enter higher education.
As part of his legacy, the Sir Tom Cowie Memorial Scholarship Awards were set up to support students within the Faculty of Applied Sciences and the Faculty of Business and Law in helping to achieve their full potential.
The Scholarship is awarded to a male and female student born and bred in Sunderland who, at the end of their penultimate year of study has demonstrated an excellent academic record and is on track to secure a First Class Honours Degree or upper Second Class Honours Degree. Trustees were also looking for additional evidence that the student has the potential for entrepreneurial success in their chosen field following graduation.
Former plasterer Michael, 40, from Houghton-le-Spring, was looking for a change in career, when the recession hit in 2008, resulting in a downturn in the construction industry.
Having always enjoyed supporting youngsters on work experience placements in his job, and volunteering his skills with training provider Springboard in Sunderland, he was inspired to become a teacher.
He completed an Access to Higher Education course at Sunderland College where he developed an interest in science and began a physiological science degree at Sunderland.
He said: "I feel like I have been given a second chance at Sunderland. I never tried that hard at school and had no interest in science, but now I'm hooked on the subject and really appreciate the second chance I have been given.
"Once I have finished my degree I'm hoping to study a PGCE at Sunderland, so being awarded this Scholarship has taken the pressure off me financially and will help so much in my final year. Like many mature students we all have the same pressures to balance, from childcare and work to our academic studies, so this money will allow me to achieve the best grades I can.
"I was overwhelmed to be selected for this award after being up against so many other excellent candidates. It's great news."
The award will allow Michael to continue his studies while working part-time at Durham Community Business College, teaching construction.
Jade, 22, from Sunderland, also believes the award will be a financial support to her in the final year of her Healthcare Science degree, which is integrated with a clinical placement at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
She's currently working part-time as an industrial cleaner at Nissan while completing her studies.
She said: "I am absolutely thrilled to have been awarded this scholarship, it means so much, and will certainly help towards getting the best grades I can. The money will support my tuition fees and living costs. I'll also be able to reduce the hours at Nissan and concentrate my efforts on my academic studies in the final year."
Jade, who is hoping to work in a micro-biology laboratory when she graduates, added: "I am really enjoying the placement at Sunderland Royal Hospital where I'm testing all different kinds of samples for infectious diseases. It's fascinating work and I'm learning so much.
"The course has been fantastic, and I've enjoyed it so much that my younger sister is now starting her degree in Healthcare Science at Sunderland this month."
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