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Youth Guarantee Student Success

Youth Guarantee Student Success

Samantha Butler started out as another 16 year old, unwilling to face the prospect of a further two years of high-school education at an all-girls school. In just two years she has radically changed her life, thanks to Unitec’s Youth Guarantee Scheme. Today Samantha is a successful Youth Guarantee Scheme Graduate, a second-year Bachelor of Sports (Management) student at Unitec, a START mentor, and now a Unitec Ambassador.

Not wanting to give up a formal qualification, but not happy with having to “fit a mould” at her current high school, Samantha went looking for an education alternative. Her school dean pointed her to Unitec’s Youth Guarantee Scheme, a fully-funded programme designed to transition early school leavers into tertiary study by providing them with practical skills and experience. Here, Samantha studied Foundation Studies, levels 2 and 3.

Samantha has revelled in having a more mature study environment than she experienced at high-school, and is particularly enjoying the freedom and responsibility granted to her by tertiary study.

“I really enjoyed the freedom of it...having that responsibility. It’s no longer you must turn up to this class; you must get this work done. It’s now your own responsibility, and if you do it you pass, if you don’t then that’s money not well spent...just having responsibility was one of my favourite things”.

Seeing her successful transition from school leaver, to Youth Guarantee Scheme Graduate, to Bachelor of Sports (Management) student, Samantha’s lecturers recommended her for Unitec’s new START mentor programme. This has allowed Samantha the opportunity to help new students facing the same challenges she faced at the beginning of her Unitec journey, often by simply making them aware of the support services available to them. Samantha hopes that through her involvement as a START mentor she can make the transition to tertiary study less threatening for school leavers.

“Orientation seems like the big party event, and you think Uni is this amazing life and then you suddenly get assignments and it’s just like a real wake-up call with ice water...To be honest what I would hope has made a difference is just making sure they’re not so overwhelmed they drop-out”.

The Youth Guarantee Scheme has given Samantha the confidence to take on opportunities which she previously would have been too reserved to undertake. Since completing the programme she has secured three new jobs.

“If I’d tried that earlier I probably would have been a bit too scared to even approach places. It’s definitely something that has helped me grow... Definitely wouldn’t have made it this far without them, I mean, they gave me the opportunity to learn how to speak up and be more confident”.

Samantha adds that Unitec itself has accounted for a significant part of her positive tertiary experience.

“Other than this is probably the coolest campus I’ve ever studied at? The versatility of this place is one of the best places to study.”

Samantha’s advice to other Unitec students is to take every opportunity that comes your way, and “don’t be afraid to put your hand up and ask for help because there’s so much help available”.

When she finishes her Bachelor of Sports (Management) at the end of 2014, Samantha is hoping to get into sports facility management, either with her own business or by joining a large organisation such as Vector Arena or Trust Arena. She is already well on her way to achieving this goal, having currently secured a work placement at Trust Arena while she completes her studies.


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