'If you have a passion for helping people then this degree is definitely something you should consider studying...'
(Whakatōhea, Ngāti Maniapoto)
Probation Officer, Department of Corrections
‘If you have a passion for helping and advocating for people then this degree is definitely something you should consider studying,’ says Jenna. It was through her roles as a busy mum of two and dance teacher that Jenna realised her potential to help her community on a professional level.
‘To be honest I kind of just fell into social work. Prior to studying I was a professional dancer and teacher which is how I developed my passion for working with young people. I have taught dance at many primary and secondary schools in Christchurch and the South Island and it was such a pleasure to see how young people would grow and develop their skills, especially students who started with absolutely no confidence.’
Jenna has found her Social Work degree to be exactly the kind of study that fuels her passion to help others.
‘I love how multi-dimensional Social Work is and how it draws from so many other disciplines such as Psychology, Sociology, Law... the list goes on. But the thing about Social Work that really motivates me is the fact that ultimately your job is to improve the quality of life for others and advocate for those who feel like they’re not heard.’
Jenna is putting her studies into practice at the Kia Marama Special Treatment Unit at Rolleston Prison. ‘My role there is to help the re-integration coordinator assist prisoners to develop a comprehensive release plan that addresses their various reintegrative needs. This includes addressing their individual, social, accommodation and employment needs as well as making sure there are systems in place to monitor and manage re-offense risk.
‘My ultimate career goal is to work with youth offenders and I would love to eventually work in a place like Te Puna Wai o Tuhinapo or Canterbury Youth Development Programme.’
As well as her full-time study, Jenna also juggles family life with being a Treasurer at Banks Avenue School’s PTA, judging hip hop dance for both the New Zealand Competitive Aerobics Federation and Primary Sports Canterbury competitions, and being a UC Student Mentor.
Despite all the different commitments, Jenna has done well with her studies and received the Arts Scholar Scholarship in recognition of her hard work.
Jenna believes her study at UC is valuable proof for other parents thinking of studying that it is possible to find the time and succeed.
‘I really want to encourage mature people to return to study. Never in a million years did I think I could raise two children, run a household and study full time. And while it has been one of the most challenging things I have done, now that the finishing line is right in front of me I can see that it has totally been worth it.’