Damia Feisst couldn't begin to count the times she has asked customers if they would like fries with their order. But she made McDonald's history when her employer asked her if she would like a hand meeting the cost of her university studies.

The Kaitaia teenager is the first winner of a $5000 tertiary scholarship offered by Lynley Reid, owner/operator of the McDonald's restaurants in Kaitaia, Kaikohe and Kerikeri.

The 19-year-old began her pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree, with a double major in chemistry and biological sciences, at the University of Auckland this year.

Her goal is to make a career in forensics.


Ms Reid said she decided to offer the annual scholarship after realising that many of her young employees dreamed of tertiary study, but were deciding against it.

"With three restaurants in the Far North, many young people come to work with me during their high school years," she said.

"Financial difficulties mean many very capable high school students feel that they can't go on to study out of town at a tertiary level, and I wanted to help."

McDonald's employed more than 10,000 people in New Zealand, and was one of the country's biggest employers of young people, she added.

The scholarship was exclusively offered to staff of the Far North Group, however, the only conditions being that they are current employees and have worked at one of the Far North McDonald's since the age of 16.

"Damia met the criteria, and I was thrilled to offer her the scholarship to contribute to her living costs as she begins her studies," Ms Reid said.

"There is a fantastic existing McDonald's scholarship, but courses are limited to AUT, and the majority of courses or staff wouldn't fit the criteria," she added.

Damia, who has worked at Macca's for more than three years, and was back at work there on Tuesday whilst on holiday, said she had applied for the scholarship in the hope that it would fund her accommodation for her first year of study.


"I'm so thankful. It will ease the financial burden as I settle in to my coursework and allow me to focus on my studies," she said.

Meanwhile Ms Reid did not expect any shortage of applicants for next year's scholarship.

"I'm sure Damia will be the first of many," she said.

"We work with so many students through high school, it only makes sense to help them as they continue to their next chapter and do our bit for the next generation."