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From troubled teen to study queen

Three releases

1. From troubled teen to study queen
2. Never too old
3. Engineering a better future

Press Release

September 8, 2003

1. From troubled teen to study queen

In Singapore, Stephanie Chia was a qualified PE teacher who lived an easy life. And that was the problem. She needed a challenge.

“I kept putting off uni studies, thinking that I would not manage. I finally took the plunge as I was getting complacent as a teacher. I felt life was more than living in one culture. I wanted to widen my horizon”.

So Stephanie left everything that was familiar to her and came to NZ to study at Waikato University. Four years on, Stephanie is a permanent resident and is currently pursuing Honours in Sport and Leisure Studies. She will graduate at the age of 35, and may go on to do her Masters.

For a person who struggled through secondary school, Stephanie has achieved a lot.

“I’m a living example of what one can accomplish despite doing badly as a teenager.
My grandfather used to tell me, ‘Learning is a lifelong process’. He was a role model and was still faithfully checking the dictionary and filling his mind with knowledge until he died in his 80’s”.

His influence coupled with the encouragement from her mum and friends helped Stephanie make her decision to return to study. Although Stephanie loves being a student, she’s realistic about the sacrifices she and other adult learners have had to make.

“Student life is great and it’s the best opportunity to make new friends, participate in activities and discover a new world to learning. Yet, it comes with a lot of hard work and perhaps a huge student loan. Hence it’s about balancing our priorities in life (socialising, studying and managing our finances well) and making the best of what we’ve got.
There’s always room for improvement, and what we study can be applied to other areas of our lives. In the words of Nike, ‘Just do it’”.

Press Release

September 8, 2003

2. Never too old

Not so long ago, Pipiwai solo parent Hohipere Williams spent much of her time doing such things as cooking, cleaning and making sure her three children had done their homework.

Two years later she’s even busier but loving it. While she still has to cook, clean and raise the kids, 29-year-old Hohipere is also finding time to do her own University work.

And it’s not just one degree. She’s now in her second year of doing Law and Social Science degrees simultaneously.

To recognise her efforts, Hohipere will be awarded a Vice Chancellor’s Adult Learner’s Award worth $1000 on 11 September, along with fellow adult students Phillipa Grace and Peter Priest. The awards are part of Adult Learners Week He Tangata Matauranga at Waikato University from September 8-14. The celebrations at Waikato include workshops, entertainment and campus tours.

So what was Hohipere’s primary motive for returning to study? “Ultimately I wanted to set a good example for the children and portray to them that you’re never to old to learn.”

For any adult thinking of returning to study, she says she’d advise them to: “Just go for it and not let any barriers stand in their way.”

Press Release

September 8, 2003

3. Engineering a better future

Rest. It’s something Peter Priest doesn’t get a lot of. At 50, Peter crams studying a Bachelor of Engineering and shiftwork at Fonterra into his 24 hour day. He’s striving for his dream and will graduate from Waikato University at the end of next year.

Peter always wanted to do an engineering degree but never had the opportunity to do so until Waikato University introduced the degree last year. Professional development, job security and necessity were all reasons for Peters return to education and he’s enjoying the challenge.

“I was very nervous as to whether I could make the step up to this standard of learning. But I was nearly 50 and I was finding shift work difficult to cope with. My chances of securing further employment in the engineering profession are greatly enhanced with a degree.

“You’re never too old, but if you have doubts just start very slowly, one subject for a start and gradually build up. If you want something bad enough and it’s important to you, you’ll make the time.

“Your family has to be behind you, you have to be committed and focused on your studies. But you have to brave enough to give it go! Only you can do it”.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed, and on September the 11th Peter will receive a Vice Chancellors Adult Learners award from Waikato University worth $1,000.


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