'There are so many people within the University wanting you to succeed...'
Studying towards a Bachelor of Arts in History with minors in English and Te Reo Māori
Taking stock of her life after the Canterbury earthquakes, Michelle, a mother of two, decided to take a new direction and work towards becoming a secondary teacher.
'I want to qualify to teach History, English, Te Reo Māori and French. My other aim is to become fluent in Te Reo so I can help contribute to the emerging Te Reo language.'
As she wanted to study in Christchurch, where her son and daughter go to school, Michelle was pleased that UC offered everything she needed academically to follow this path, including preparatory courses for getting back into study. Following her bachelor's degree, she plans to take the one-year Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Secondary).
Michelle admits that coming back to study as an adult was 'really daunting' and she is grateful for the support she received, especially from the Maori Development Team (MDT).
'The MDT is awesome and they are always looking for ways to help you achieve. I found it really helpful to have someone guide me when I first started here and I wanted to be able to do the same for someone else so I have joined the MDT as a Tuakana mentor. We have a fantastic team of mentors and our training sessions are great fun. It's awesome to be able to help out other students, especially adult students. We also get to work closely with Te Akatoki Māori Students' Association and Te Putairiki: Māori Law Students Association.'
It's not only the MDT that has impressed Michelle.
'The staff and other students, the attitudes of everyone at UC are really positive and everyone who is there wants to succeed,' she says. 'I love the people I work and study with. They are all so inspirational and help push you through the tough moments.'
Meanwhile, her undergraduate subjects have been enjoyable in themselves.
'I love studying New Zealand history,' she says. 'It is a short history in comparison to the rest of the world, but it is a fascinating history. Race relations in our country make so much more sense to me now.
'I'm also enjoying learning Te Reo Māori. It's great to be immersed in such a positive environment, one where you can practise speaking the language with others in an everyday setting. I can't wait until I can converse fluently with other Te Reo Māori speakers.'
As well as bringing up her children and attending university, Michelle works at the Canterbury District Health Board and is actively involved with her children's school PTA and Whanau Advisory Group. Her philosophy is to work hard and play hard - whenever you get time.
'When I am not studying or working I like to catch up with friends. I like to exercise with both friends and family, and go on holidays if the opportunity arises. It is important to book yourself time out for fun and to recharge your batteries.'
Michelle has two other tips for others thinking about studying.
'Keep an open mind about your degree. Quite often your major and minor subject choices change as you progress. However, the most important thing is to ask for help whenever you need it, no matter how minor it may seem. There are so many people within the University wanting you to succeed, you just have to ask.'