Scholarship changes Papamoa woman’s life

Casey Waterhouse is studying to be a personal trainer. Supplied image.

A BayTrust Scholarship is helping one Papamoa woman change her career after a devastating motocross accident left her paralysed.


Casey Waterhouse is one of 25 local recipients of the Dillon Scholarship this year and the qualified teacher is using her scholarship for study to become a personal trainer.


“Studying has helped me with my drive to walk again and will give me more knowledge and understanding about my body. I also want to give other people in wheelchairs or with disabilities hope that you can still achieve your goals and do the things you want to do.”


Applications for BayTrust’s $100,000 Dillon Scholarship fund will open this weekend and could potentially help dozens of Western Bay students with significant physical or intellectual disabilities who are undertaking tertiary study next year.

The unique annual scholarship fund has awarded a total of $1.93m among 530 Bay of Plenty students since it first began in 1990 and is the only one of its kind in New Zealand.

It's designed to level the playing field as students with disabilities often face additional study costs compared to their able-bodied peers. It also allows recipients to concentrate on studying rather than having to work part-time or worrying about how to make ends meet, and helps pay for things like medical bills, learning aides, special equipment and transport.

There is no age restriction and those eligible may receive up to $5000 per year for a maximum of five years to help them obtain tertiary qualifications.

Casey received a $3500 scholarship this year which has paid for most of her online course fees. “This scholarship has made things so much easier and it’s given me a purpose as well. When I had my accident, I wasn’t sure about going back to teaching, and I really wanted to help other people. When I got the scholarship, it confirmed in my mind that personal training is what I want to do.'

Casey is determined to walk again after her accident. Supplied image.

The 27 year-old had raced motocross for 10 years before she “mucked up” in practice and landed on her neck three years ago. She is determined to eventually walk again and currently spends most of her time doing rehab at NextStep New Zealand fitness and recovery centre in Mount Maunganui.


“My trainer told me about the Dillon Scholarship and encouraged me to apply. I want to walk again so bad and I want to help other people with their rehab as well rather than be told ‘this is all you’re going to have’. When I got the scholarship I thought ‘yes, I can do this.’ I know I’ll get there, it will just take time.”


BayTrust CEO Alastair Rhodes says Casey’s story is an inspirational reminder why eligible Western Bay students should apply for the Dillon scholarship if they need extra support.


“Our first scholarships in 1990 awarded a total of $1800. We’re now approaching the $2m mark and it’s always inspiring to hear the aspirations of students with significant disabilities. The challenges they have to overcome just to get to class each day are incredible and BayTrust is fortunate to be able to support them in this way.”


Dillon Scholarship funds can help pay for any costs reasonably associated with tertiary study and can include course fees, books, computers and living costs.


“The beauty of this scholarship is there are no boundaries around it,” says Alastair.

“The recipients can choose to use the money for whatever they need. I hope it continues well into the future and keep the original spirit of helping people with significant disabilities.


“It’s something we have right here in the Bay of Plenty that doesn’t exist anywhere else in New Zealand which is pretty special.”


BayTrust will consider applications from students whose home base is within the Bay of Plenty, and who are applying to study at university, polytechnic or other New Zealand-based institutions in a course recognised by NZQA or equivalent.


Applications for the Dillon Scholarship open on Sunday, November 1 and will close on January 15 for the 2021 academic year.

Bay of Plenty students who have a medically-recognised significant disability can apply on-line by visiting or phoning BayTrust on 0800 654 546.

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