A Second Chance at Life and Learning

Candice Donner had a stroke and became a single parent before studying at Toi Ohomai

Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020

After suffering a stroke and then becoming single parent, Candice Donner proved she’s not the type of woman to just give up. 

Instead, the former Whakatāne woman, who is now living in Te Puke, decided to embrace her challenges and build a new life for her and her son. She started studying at towards the Bachelor of Community Health at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in 2017. 

Last year, during her final year of the degree, her new journey got a boost when she was named as one of the recipients of the Second Chance Education Awards from the New Horizons for Women Trust. 

Candice says the award provided financial relief during her last semester, reducing her stress and enabling her to focus on her studies, where she went on to achieve A-grade passes for her final two papers. 

“I’m very grateful to have been a recipient of this award, it really was a very positive addition to my study experience. Completing a degree after having a massive stroke and also living with physical disability and being a single parent was extremely challenging. This award was confirmation for me that all the hard work was worth it.” 

Candice is now working for a Māori health service provider and says she’s grateful for the support she has received. 

The Second Chance Education Awards recognise women who are studying and working to achieve, not just for themselves but for the good of their families, communities and society. 

Most of the awards are for women who are returning to study later in life and recognise the extra responsibilities and costs women have when studying when they are older. 

The awards are supported by Toi Ohomai. Head of Marketing and Communications Jess Barnett said the institute gave $20,000 raised from its 2019 Charity Golf Day to the trust as part of our commitment to uplifting women and communities. 

“We have worked with the New Horizons for Women Trust to create scholarships in our name for Bay of Plenty and South Waikato applicants.  

“Working with the trust provides us with a great opportunity to show our commitment to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principals and to give back to a charitable organisation that has a proven background with strong support networks.” 

Jess says last year’s Charity Golf Day was the second time that Toi Ohomai had held the event and it was attended by stakeholders and staff from across the Bay of Plenty. 

Applications for this year’s awards will open on Sunday, 1 March.