Samantha Oxley is a recipient of financial assistance through the Blind & Low Vision NZ’s Oppenheim Trust grant.

She completed a Bachelor of Business at Auckland University of Technology majoring in economics and finance in 2015, and loved studying economics so much she is currently completing her Masters of Business.

She talks to us about her studies, and encourages Kiwis who are blind or have low vision considering tertiary study to apply for financial support.

What are your career aspirations?

Growing up I was always searching for something that I was truly passionate about. I found a genuine interest and passion in economics in high school and am so glad I have been able to pursue this at university. Studying economics has given me important tools with which to approach problems.

My dream job would be to work in policy evaluation. What I like about policy evaluation is the ability to investigate policies which might have real life impacts for people. I am most passionate about being able to help people by making real differences in the world.

Tell us a bit about your eye condition and any challenges you faced studying with vision loss?

I was born with two rare eye conditions; horizontal nystagmus and ocular albinism. These eye conditions present countless challenges in every aspect of my life. Transitioning to university presented challenges with transport to and from town. Fortunately, Blind & Low Vision NZ offers orientation and mobility services to help familiarise with bus and train lines, and where to catch these to and from.

What’s your biggest studying achievement?

I have achieved results within the top 10% of business graduates at AUT, which I am immensely proud of. But regardless of results, I am always proud of myself if I am truly trying my best and chasing my dreams. Through the last four years of study, I’ve grown a lot as a person and was lucky enough to meet some of my best friends in my course.

And the biggest challenge?

One of my biggest challenges has been achieving balance in life between university, work and my personal life. I work a part time job around my studies and at the beginning of this year began tutoring one of the undergraduate papers that I had once taken as a student. This year I came to realise how important it was to still make time for my hobbies to help maintain good mental health through the stress of assignments and studying.

How was the financial support from the Oppenheim Trust helpful?

It has been amazing to receive the support that I have from the Oppenheim Trust. It’s something that will pay huge dividends later in life while others are saving for a house whilst also paying off student loans. That’s a huge advantage that blind and visually impaired individuals have access to. I would encourage other blind or visually impaired people to take advantage of that opportunity.

What advice do you have for anyone thinking about going for the scholarship?

I would encourage anyone who’s thinking about going to university, a polytechnic, or another form of study to apply to a scholarship such as the Oppenheim Trust. It is such an amazing opportunity to be made available to those who are vision impaired.

As with any scholarship, you stand out by getting involved in activities, clubs or things you’re interested in. You should showcase this to show your personality and passion.

In terms of advice for university, the best advice I can give to people is to pursue something that ignites passion in your heart. Always make sure you give everything your all. Grab a hold of every opportunity that comes your way.

Applications open for the Oppenheim Trust grant on 1 October. Find out more about the grant and how to apply.