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Scholarships abound for Shannon Macdonald

When it comes to university scholarships, recent ACG Sunderland graduate, Shannon Macdonald, has been spoilt for choice.


The school’s 2020 Head Girl was offered a number of scholarships from the University of Canterbury, as well as the Pacific Excellence Scholarship from the University of Auckland.

“I chose to accept the Pacific Excellence Scholarship because the courses I’m interested in – Bachelor of Advanced Science (Hons) with a specialisation in chemistry and Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) – are only available at Auckland University,” says Shannon.

The scholarship includes $16,000 toward university halls of residence plus $1000 each semester during the second and third years of her degree.

“It allows me to fully immerse myself in the university culture. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to stay in a hall of residence. It enables me to live away from home, close to the university, but still be relatively close to my family in these unpredictable times. Plus, by living near campus, I’ll have lots of opportunities to get involved with university clubs and teams, make new friends and develop my networks.”

Since Year 11, Shannon has had her sights set on studying engineering.

“It incorporated my design passion, problem-solving and mathematical mind all into one.” But Year 13 chemistry prompted a rethink.
“It ignited a spark inside of me which I’m so drawn to, and now I can’t see my future without chemistry. By studying advanced science, I get the best of both worlds – I can fuel my passion for chemistry and the knowledge I gain can also be transferable to my engineering degree.”

It’s exciting stuff, and Shannon can’t wait to get started.

“I’m so ready for it! I’m looking forward to the increase in independence and all the new opportunities I will have. Living in the halls, I’ll have to learn everything from budgeting and laundry to balancing university commitments and socialising.”

As for the workload? The motivated teen is quietly confident that she is well equipped for the challenge.

“The style of teaching I experienced at ACG Sunderland will help me greatly as it enabled me to develop the skills that support independent learning.”

Interestingly, Shannon believes it was ACG Sunderland’s physical education programme that has had the most significant impact in terms of valuable life lessons.

“PE has probably taught me the most in terms of how to achieve my goals. It taught me not just how to look after myself physically, mentally and emotionally, but also how to support others.

“I had so many highlights during my time at ACG, but one I will never forget was coaching the Year 7 netball team last year. For many of them, it was the beginning of their journey in netball and seeing them develop as players and a team gave me so much pride. It still does. Even now they keep me updated on their games and shout out ‘hi’ whenever they see me. I’ll miss that.”

After many happy years at ACG Sunderland, Shannon is now beginning an exciting new chapter. For those coming up the school behind her, she has some words of advice.

“Always strive for understanding – whether that means asking questions, doing additional problems, searching it up on YouTube … or all of the above! Also, try to do as much as you can as early as possible and leave nothing to the last minute, no matter how small the task seems to be.

“And finally, don’t ever give up on your passions or cast them aside. You will be much happier if you have something you love, even if it manifests into a hobby. Never give up.”