First Sunderland students granted Sir Tom Cowie legacy scholarships

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TWO students have been handed scholarships worth £10,000 as part of a new annual academic award.

Michael Spowart and Jade McKenna, who are both about to begin the final year of their degrees at the University of Sunderland, are the first winners of the Sir Tom Cowie Memorial Scholarship Awards.

The scheme was set up in memory of the Wearside-born entrepreneur, who died last year aged 89.

It will support students within the Faculty of Applied Sciences and the Faculty of Business and Law.

The scholarship is awarded to a Sunderland-born male and female student who, at the end of their penultimate year of study, have demonstrated a strong academic record and are on track to secure a first-class or upper second class honours degree.

Former plasterer Michael, 40, from Houghton, was looking for a change in career when the recession hit in 2008.

Helping young people on work experience and volunteering with Springboard inspired him to become a teacher and he took up a physiological science degree after developing an interest in the subject at Sunderland College.

He plans to go on to do a teaching qualification and works part-time at Durham Community Business College as he studies.

He said: “I never tried that hard at school and had no interest in science. Now I’m hooked on the subject and really appreciate the second chance I have been given.”

Jade, 22, from Sunderland, is in the last year of her healthcare science degree.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have been awarded this scholarship, it means so much, and will certainly help towards getting the best grades I can,” she said.