After living in big cities across Australia and New Zealand, Kathy decided to return to her hometown in Wairarapa to study nursing. Her journey led to her receiving the Carterton District Council Scholarship, and now she’s determined to make a meaningful impact in the mental and sexual health sectors.

“A few years ago, I moved to Christchurch to be with my husband and spent three years teaching sex and consent education in high schools around the region. The work was really satisfying but I felt I could be more useful to rangatahi if I pursued a nursing career.

“We couldn’t afford my studies if we stayed in Christchurch. We made the choice to move back to Wairarapa, which is how I found my way to UCOL. Life was more affordable here, so I could pursue my dreams without the financial strain.”

Kathy says her educational journey at UCOL has been amazing and she has received invaluable guidance throughout.

“Many of my lecturers have gone out of their way to support me through this degree, and my personal tutor too. I’ve also had help navigating my various placements and working out what my next steps might look like. Not to mention the assistance from the Student Support team has been massive!”

Improving her academic skills has been one of her biggest accomplishments, says Kathy.

“I left school in year 11, so I wasn’t very confident in my academic writing when I started. I received a lot of guidance from the UCOL library team in my first year. They helped me build my confidence and skills and I began receiving good marks! It’s what I am proudest of, and I hope to continue at postgraduate level.”

Kathy says she has also found her time on placement incredibly fulfilling.

“I’ve worked across aged care, mental health, and general care at the Wairarapa Hospital, a medical centre and the hospice. From assisting people to shower who can no longer mobilise easily, spending time with a person in the midst of a mental health crisis, to sharing a laugh with all the beautiful nurses – these experiences let me know that nursing is the right career for me!

Kathy said she applied for the Carterton District Council Scholarship on the recommendation of one of the kaimahi (staff).

“I turned 40 after my first year of nursing and found, to my surprise, that I was no longer eligible for the student allowance. This has, at times, made things financially difficult so I was advised to apply for various scholarships to get me through.

“It’s been a lot of help, especially while I am doing this final placement! I’m currently working in a full time, unpaid role for nine weeks at Te Omanga Hospice in Lower Hutt. This has helped provide for my accommodation and travel costs.”

Although Kathy originally moved back to Wairarapa to study, she says she’s now here to stay.

“I’ve only got a couple months to go now! Once I complete my studies and become a Registered Nurse, I am hoping to stay on and help provide mental or sexual health services in Wairarapa. We don’t have Family Planning or any similar service in our area, so I’d love to be part of a team who changes that!”

For ākonga who are considering applying for scholarships, Kathy says to get in touch with Student Support.

“The Student Support team are amazing. They can help you figure out what scholarships are available over the year and how to make a plan to apply for ones you’re eligible for.

“They can also assist you with writing your application essay, which can feel a bit tricky if you are not used to putting yourself forward!”