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Community mentor earns Victoria degrees


14 December 2012

Community mentor earns Victoria degrees

Winona Hewitt

Determined mother of four Fanaafi Winona To’afa Hewitt balanced study and family commitments alongside an exceptional level of community service to complete conjoint degrees at Victoria University.

Winona, who graduated on Wednesday with Bachelors of Art and Teaching, is the netball coordinator at Karori West Normal School and a member of Wellington West Netball, a club managed by volunteers which provides a winter netball competition for primary and intermediate schools in Wellington’s western suburbs.

While studying towards two degrees with majors in Samoan Studies and teaching English to speakers of other languages, she also coached young girls training to become netball umpires and introduced a Netball New Zealand ‘Fun Ferns’ programme to Karori West Normal School. Winona mentored Pasifika students at Victoria through the Te Pūtahi Atawhai programme, contributed to her local church and raised her four children ranging in age from eight to 21 years old.

Winona says keeping organised was her key to success.

“I was a really busy person. I had a timetable for my university work and a timetable of my other activities and I planned ahead so I knew what was on the agenda for each day.”

Coming from a family of teachers, Winona says she has always been passionate about educating and mentoring others, and during her studies she made the time to mentor fellow Pasifika students at Victoria.

“I’ve provided writing advice on their essays and assessments. But I’ve also told them that age, time and money are never obstacles when you set your mind to achieve.”

Winona has encouraged Victoria’s lecturers and tutors to ensure they provide enough context and clarity to their lectures and classes, particularly for students who’ve come from an environment very different to New Zealand—a situation she’s well aware of, having arrived in Wellington from Samoa in 1995.

She says a love of learning means she’s considering continuing her studies through a Master in Education.

“I would particularly like to acknowledge my immediate family, St. Ninians Uniting Parish in Karori and Victoria University staff member Maria Goncalves-Rorke for supporting me through my studies,” she says.

Winona crossed the stage at the Faculties of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, Toihuarewa and Te Kōkī—New Zealand School of Music graduation ceremony at 6pm on Wednesday.

© Scoop Media

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