"I feel incredibly blessed to be given an opportunity to study for free," says Felicity Powdrell she received a Hawke's Bay Rugby Union scholarship to the Eastern Institute of Technology for the second time in a row.
"It means I'm able to be debt free once I finish study, which will be really useful if I travel overseas with sport," Powdrell said.
She plays for the Hawke's Bay Tuis and is in her second year of pursuing a recreation and sport degree.
The other four EIT scholarship recipients are Kainu Kereru-Symes (Magpies), Donovan Mataira (Magpies Academy), Liam Udy Johns (Magpies Academy) and Trent Hape (Magpies Academy).
Kereru-Symes says his EIT scholarship allows him to focus on living out his dream to play for the Hawke's Bay Magpies, gaining his degree, all while living at home.
For Mataira it is equally significant.
"It takes a bit of financial stress off my shoulders. Studying at EIT is quite fun and a lot different to high school and I thoroughly enjoy it," he says.
Powdrell highlights the understanding and leniency of the lecturers when it comes to sporting commitments.
"I am grateful for the support I receive," she says. "I feel like EIT staff personally care about their student's wellbeing, not just their academic results."
Further Magpie Academy members Udy Johns and Hape talk about how studying challenges them to leave their comfort zone and how much the lecturers support them to overcome certain difficulties.
EIT's recreation and sport team provides support to the academy squad to plan for life after sport.