Southern Institute of Technology Business student, Aurora Cai, was given a well-earned reward recently, much to her surprise and delight. She’s the first recipient in Southland of the Jane M. Klausman Scholarship from Zonta, an international service organisation whose mission is to empower women.
Miss Cai came to Invercargill from Indonesia in February 2020, to study a leadership and management programme through SIT2LRN. She’s in her second year, having completed Level 5 last year. “I am currently doing a NZ Diploma in Business, Level 6,” she said.
It was Programme Manager | Development Coordinator, Sulina Sahib, who first told Miss Cai about the scholarship and encouraged her to apply. “I thought it was a good
opportunity to prove myself and evaluate my competencies so there was no harm in giving it a try,” she said.
Carla Werder, Club Secretary and Jane M. Klausman Awards (JMK) Committee Chairperson, has been involved in the Zonta Club of Invercargill from the beginning. The club was chartered in 2019 and they have 15 active members. She said although the JMK scholarship has been offered internationally by Zonta since 1998, “It's the first time that we have offered this scholarship locally, with applicants from across Southland.”
The business scholarship programme is to assist women in gaining education in undergraduate and Master’s degrees in business management, helping them “to overcome gender barriers from the classroom to the boardroom”.
“Unfortunately the statistics in New Zealand on gender equality in business are not great,” said Mrs Werder.
Zonta's focus as an organisation is about the empowerment of women, helping them to realise their full potential. The organisation’s advocacy includes women being present at
the decision-making level and in leadership, on an equal basis with men.
The judging process revealed Miss Cai embodied all the qualities of the scholarship requirements. The judges commented, “She had outstanding academic results – she is an exceptional student, who clearly defined her ambitious commitment to pursuing a career in business and showed initiative in reaching her career goal,” said Mrs Werder.
What also stood out was Miss Cai’s ability to lead in the voluntary realm with the Indonesian Students Association, as well as excelling academically, “with no support - she’s been literally stuck here because of the pandemic”, Mrs Werder added.
The judges said her leadership in the Indonesian Students Association both locally and at a national level is to be commended while studying full-time.
Mrs Werder quoted a saying from author Sheryl Sandburg, who wrote Lean In - a book on women in business. “Aurora has real strength and just has that ability to ‘lean in’ to any
challenge that appears.”
“The Klausman scholarship represents women who are outstanding in their field - we are very proud of Aurora and the work she is doing, both academically and within the community, while being so far from home,” Mrs Werder added.
When Miss Cai found out she had won the scholarship, she “delightedly informed her parents”, it’s made her (and them) “very happy”.
Still deciding what to do after graduating at the end of this year, Miss Cai said she may continue studying at Level 7 to complete a degree, or gain work experience before continuing on to higher study. Whichever she chooses, it will be the best decision for her already bright future. “The win has motivated and pushed me to work even harder to accomplish something bigger in the future, in order to make my parents proud,” she said.
More information on Zonta scholarships can be found at: