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Keeping it in the family

Keeping it in the family

When she was holding her oldest son, Jack, and looking out from the bedroom of her Kelburn Parade home, Michelle Laurenson would look across to Victoria University and wonder if she would ever get the opportunity to study.

Just over two decades on, Michelle is in her third year of study towards a Bachelor of Arts and looking forward to her third son, Ben (18), joining his brothers Mark (19) and Jack, now 21, who also study at Victoria.

“The boys were really proud when I said I was going to university—it was something I had always wanted to do,” says Michelle.

Mark, who is in his second year of study towards a Bachelor of Commerce, says seeing his mum go to university was good motivation.

“Seeing mum doing well made me realise that I could do it too.”

Victoria has become the family’s second home. All four members of the family live separately in Wellington but regularly catch up on campus, with Michelle often buying lunch.

“Whenever we meet up for lunch, Mum pays for it, even though she’s a poor student too,” says Jack, who is in his final year of a Bachelor of Science.

When Michelle started at Victoria, Jack told a group of fellow first year students that she was looking for an invitation to the Orientation toga party. “He was finally able to pay me back for all those times I tried to embarrass him at school when he was younger and would say ‘give me a kiss, Jack’, ” says Michelle.

Ben, who is about to start a Bachelor of Commerce, knows what is expected of him at university, and his older brothers hope he will learn from their mistakes.

“I’ve heard about their late night cramming and I’m hoping I won’t have to do that. They’ve all given me a lecture about what not to do—not just Mum.”

Jack says the biggest challenge transitioning from college to university is learning to plan and adjusting to the more independent lifestyle. “I’m going to be helping Ben with that,” says Jack.

Michelle with her three sons, from left to right Jack, Ben and Mark. “I’ve told him to put himself out there as much as he can and to meet as many people as possible.

“But to not fall behind with all his course work,” reminds Mark.


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