With a severely disfigured right hand and a 30-year career cut short by automation, Judea's Jim Smith was at a crossroads.
"Half of my hand was amputated in 1990 when it got caught in a printing press and I only have one complete digit left."
A few years later, the printing plant he worked for closed down and Smith struggled to find employment.
"My hand was often quoted as a reason not to hire me in other industries, so I had to retrain."
The 52 year-old is now studying law at Waikato University after being inspired by his own personal experience in the family court.
"Family law was definitely my introduction into the profession but I'm also interested in international human rights and governance as well. I hope to be able to give back in due course."
Smith was one of 25 Western Bay students with significant disabilities who will receive a share of $39,250 from this year's BayTrust Dillon Scholarship fund to help them complete tertiary study.
The Dillon Scholarship is in its 29th year and supports disabled Bay of Plenty students while they undertake tertiary qualifications.
Smith will receive $1500 to help cover his expenses which includes computer software to convert his speech into written study notes.
"I will never be able to touch type and I have to write with my left hand now which is pretty hard."
The scholarship will also help pay his petrol costs as he commutes from Tauranga to Hamilton.
"Most scholarships are only for school leavers and once you're over 40 you receive a reduced student allowance allocation. The beauty of the Dillon Scholarship is there's no age restriction and it helps people out who are behind the eight ball to begin with. I was rapt to hear my application was accepted."
BayTrust Dillon Scholarship committee chariman Roger Taylor said 50 students across the wider Bay of Plenty will benefit this year with $77,150 worth of scholarships.
Applications for the Dillon Scholarship open towards the end of each year for the following academic year. There was no age restriction