For Kerry Reddy, a $3000 award upon graduation from Whitireia Polytechnic was like the cherry on top.
A design student from Whitby, Reddy has completed her bachelor of applied arts (visual arts), majoring in textiles. She and her classmates had been encouraged to apply for the inaugural award from Zonta International.
Representatives of the Mana branch judged her portfolio the best of six entries.
"It was a real surprise, a wonderful one to end it all here [at Whitireia]. I couldn't quite believe it," Reddy said.
The money will probably go towards either an industrial- sized sewing machine, a good camera or some post-graduate work. She hopes to eventually open her own studio or teach art at secondary-school level.
"What I've learnt here at Whitireia has been amazing. The course work really stretched me, it can take you out of your comfort zone, but the three years have just flown. I loved it."
Zonta International is a global organisation of professionals who work to advance the status of women through service and advocacy. There are 30,000 members worldwide and 28 clubs from Northland to Otago.
Mana and New Zealand Zonta chairwoman Barbara Thompson said Reddy's portfolio showed "extraordinary vision". The judging was very close but they kept returning to Reddy's impeccable finishing and the "journey" she told of through her work.
The criteria of demonstrating drive and motivation, high academic standards and contributing to design research were boxes that were all ticked, Ms Thompson said.
"We're about a hand up, not a handout, and we listened to the aspirations of the students. The talent was unbelievable and made judging very difficult."
Other finalists' fields included graphic art, print and fashion design.
While Zonta give a number of international and national awards, having a "local" scholarship through Whitireia was important, said Ms Thompson.
This year the Mana group raised more than $6000 and would look to keep putting this back into the Porirua community.
Reddy's Pillars of Belonging will feature in an exhibition of Whitireia art and design graduates at Pataka, from December 15 to January 13.
- Kapi-Mana News