When Aaron McGregor was 16 years old, he couldn't wait to leave school.

Now in his mid-forties, the full-time Whanganui UCOL student has just won a scholarship in his first year of a diploma of business studies. He was one of 15 Whanganui UCOL students to receive awards at a ceremony on Wednesday night.

"When I left school at 16, I thought I knew everything. I hated being at school," Mr McGregor said.

"Now I've come full circle - I'm ready to learn, and I love it."


Mr McGregor is originally from Waitotara, and has whakapapa links to Ngā Rauru and Te Ātihaunui-A-Pāpārangi, among other iwi.

He has a wide and varied range of business experience, including working in the meat industry, at Mars Petcare and as a contractor for Ngā Rauru.

"But I wanted to upskill, so I decided to come back to study."

Mr McGregor is no stranger to study - "I'm always taking every opportunity I can to upskill" - but this is the first time for a long time that he has taken on study full-time. He's enjoying the experience, although it can be challenging to juggle his studies with full-time single parenting of three children.

"It's good to take some time off and soak up new information," he said.

After he graduates next year, Mr McGregor hopes to go on to do a bachelor degree in business, most likely at Massey University, and may one day open his own business.

"I'm majoring in management and accounting, so I'm keeping my options open."

Mr McGregor attended the scholarship ceremony on Wednesday evening, and was able meet with the donor of his scholarship.

"I feel very fortunate to receive this scholarship. I feel very humbled - there are many UCOL students who would be worthy of it."

The full list of scholarship winners is:

Akoranga Education Trust Scholarship: Sarah Bolland (Bachelor of Design and Art), Rachel Pirere (Bachelor of Nursing).
Arthur Wheeler Leedstown Trust Scholarship: Aaron McGregor (New Zealand Diploma in Business), Leah Akkerman (Bachelor of Nursing), Kylie Brown (Bachelor of Nursing), James Middleton (Bachelor of Nursing, Courtney Allen (New Zealand Certificate in Hairdressing).

Belgravia Capital Ltd Scholarship: Emma van de Weert (Bachelor of Nursing).

The Grand Hotel Scholarship: Thomas Kereama (New Zealand Diploma in Cookery, advanced).

H & A Print Scholarship: Paul Pert (Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design), Sonia Forsey (Bachelor of Design and Art).

Rotary Clubs of Wanganui Scholarship: Claire Marara (Bachelor of Nursing).

Wanganui Education Trust Scholarship: Michele Higgs (Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design), Waimarama Tairi-Bartlett (Bachelor of Nursing), Linda Kealey (New Zealand Diploma in Business).