Health Minister Tony Ryall outside Parliament with
Freemason Scholarship winner and University of Otago
student Anna Hoek-Sims. Photo by Neil Mackenzie.
To say life for Anna Hoek-Sims has been an emotional
roller coaster lately is an understatement.
After a hectic 2013, in which the University of Otago
languages student achieved a double major (bachelor of arts
and a diploma in language, in Japanese), the 24-year-old
received challenging news when she was diagnosed with cancer.
But her prognosis is good and after winning a $6000 New
Zealand Freemason Scholarship this month she will continue
her study in July by starting an honours degree in French and
politics at Otago.
She will explore the rights of Algerian immigrants in France
and compare French policies with New Zealand's policies and
provisions for Maori.
She then intends to study for a masters in public health,
spurred by Health Minister Tony Ryall's recently released
report on adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survival
Miss Hoek-Sims and fellow Otago students Lucy Sulzberger,
Jennifer Walker and Gareth Rees were among 30 New Zealand
university students who received a slice of $208,000 from
Freemasons New Zealand during a ceremony in Parliament's
Legislative Council Chamber.
The scholarships were presented by pharmaceutical scientist,
inventor and social entrepreneur Sir Ray Avery.
Mr Rees (50), who received $10,000, has begun a PhD at the
University of Otago's department of preventive and social
He is researching the future configuration and opportunities
for New Zealand's health workforce, and hopes to produce
research aimed at helping New Zealand effectively manage
health sector resources in an environment facing funding
Ms Sulzberger (21) received $6000 so she can complete her
bachelor of medical science honours degree at the University
of Otago (Wellington), where she is working with the Gillies
McIndoe Research Institute on cancer treatment research.
She is focusing on some of the factors affecting infantile
haemangioma, a vascular tumour and the most common tumour of
It is hoped a greater understanding of this tumour will lead
to a shift in how cancer is understood and treated.
Ms Walker (25) also received $6000. She is in her final year
of a bachelor of medicine at Otago.
As an intern, she is taking advantage of the opportunity to
travel and practise medicine overseas for three months, and
is working at the Good Shepherd Hospital in Swaziland.
In June, she will spend five weeks at Charing Cross Hospital
in London, working with the infectious diseases team, and
after graduating, she intends to apply for a house surgeon
role at Wellington Hospital.