'It is interesting, challenging and has a big focus on people...'
Pūkenga Manaaki, Te Piki Oranga, Blenheim
Soon after completing her degree at UC, Aimee landed a job as a Pūkenga Manaaki with the Māori health provider Te Piki Oranga – a dream opportunity.
‘My role involves working in the community with whānau and connecting them with health services,’ she says.
‘Māori health and well-being is my passion and is the line of work I would like to continue working in for the future,’ she says. ‘at Te Piki Oranga it's quite different from working in a Western organisation – every morning we have waiata and karakia before starting the day, and we regularly meet with the other teams for powhiri on the marae.’
Having always wanted to work with people, Aimee says studying Speech and Language Pathology has set her up well for this role.
‘It is interesting, challenging and has a big focus on people – it just ticked all the boxes for me.’
She admits that it was not her first choice of study, however.
‘I originally went to UC not really having a clue what I wanted to do so I took a Chemistry paper, a Psychology paper and a Sociology paper. I enjoyed them, but I wasn’t passionate about them – I couldn’t see myself working in any of these fields after varsity. So, I decided to take a Communication Disorders paper in my second semester, and I really loved it.’
Aimee believes that, although it may be a less well-known subject, Speech and Language Pathology, which is taught by UC’s Department of Communication Disorders, is well worth studying.
‘My high school careers advisor had originally suggested Speech and Language Therapy for me, but I didn’t know what it was so I ignored her advice! So I would say to other people, don’t rule it out just because you are unfamiliar with the field. It’s not an easy degree but it can be very exciting and extremely rewarding.’
She adds: ‘I wanted – and still want – to do something worthwhile with my study. I love that this degree has a big focus on working with people and getting to know them on a personal level, and you really can make a difference in the lives of others using the knowledge and skills you learn.’
Aimee says that the UC programme stands out because of the practical component.
‘Although it was scary to have my own client in my First Professional Year, it was immensely beneficial for our development as competent therapists,’ she says.
She also enjoyed being part of a relatively small cohort of students in her year group.
‘I love how the forty people accepted into the programme each year have all the same classes – it is impossible not to make some really good friends. You become such a unit and everyone is really supportive of each other as you are all experiencing the same thing.’
In her spare time Aimee enjoys yoga, reading and sewing, and has set herself a new challenge to learn Spanish at night classes. ‘It’s fun,’ she says. ‘I’m not very good at it but I am getting there!’