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Student story

Annabel Frost

20 July 2023

Bachelor of Arts in Human Services and Sociology, and a Bachelor of Criminal Justice

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Sociology

National Practice Manager, Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou


Variety and some unexpected new interests have been some of the best things about studying a double degree for Annabel.

"I have always been interested in learning about people, different cultures, and the world around me, so I started off doing a BA in Sociology and Human Services. Taking the 200-level Crime and Justice paper really sparked my interest in the criminal justice field, so when the BCJ degree was introduced at UC, it seemed like the perfect degree for me."

Annabel says she carried on with her BA to make herself more employable and because she found that the two degrees really complemented each other.

"I"ve really enjoyed the broad range of subjects that are covered in the BCJ. I could take courses in my favourite subject areas such as Human Services and Psychology, but the compulsory courses also meant that I was taking courses I would never originally have chosen — such as Philosophy and Māori. This was great as it encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and I actually found these subjects were really interesting.

Taking Māori Studies courses is definitely something I would recommend, especially for people like me who are not originally from New Zealand. It opened my eyes to a whole new culture and really made me aware of issues concerning Māori that are very relevant in my area of study.

Another thing Annabel enjoyed about her BCJ was the quality of lecturing. "I feel very privileged to have been able to learn from lecturers such as Greg Newbold and Jarrod Gilbert, who are two of the most knowledgeable people on criminal justice topics in New Zealand. The factual information and personal stories they were able to give are something that is unique to UC. All the lecturers have helped to increase my interest in the subject, and they have always been happy to help."

Her interest in other cultures means travel is a passion for UK-born Annabel. Her trips have included Canada, UK and Europe, and several states in the USA.

Annabel has also travelled as a result of her academic success. She was awarded a Prime Minister"s Scholarship for Asia which helped fund an internship in Rayong Province, Thailand that she had been selected for. She stayed with a host family and spent a month teaching at a school.

"It was an amazing experience and one of the highlights of my time at UC. The children at the school and my hosts spoke very little English so it was definitely challenging. However, through the experience I was able to learn so much about myself, the Thai culture and to make lasting friendships. I have kept in touch with some of the Thai university students I met and spent time with them when they later came on exchange to UC."

Annabel was able to show the students around her home university.

"There"s a great atmosphere here," she says. "I really like the campus — there are so many cafés and other areas to meet with friends or study between lectures. The student life at UC is a huge plus, with so many club events going on throughout the year. Orientation week is also a highlight!"

Annabel agrees that studying a double degree, with a double major, can be a challenge, and especially when working two part-time jobs and still trying to find time for friends and travelling.

She made a success of it, however, and was invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society because of her strong grade point average. Annabel was also the first student to graduate with the Criminal Justice degree at UC and in New Zealand.

Later studying an honours degree in Sociology, Annabel had the opportunity to take on an internship with the Ministry of Justice in Wellington during the summer months. Her role involved assisting the Sector Group.

"I enjoyed the internship experience because it gave me a great insight into the role of an adviser at the Ministry, and it was good to be working in an area that interested me and related to my degrees. It was interesting to see how the Ministry works across the justice sector with other agencies, to achieve its common goals. It was also fun living in a new city and meeting new people!"

After graduating she continued working within the Ministry, initially with Coronial Services dealing with sudden death inquires, before taking on various of leadership roles within the courts; including managing the Jury Trial team, the Christchurch Youth Court, and Ashburton District Court.

"Each of these roles involved a lot of variety, which meant I was always learning and growing. There are a huge range of roles within the Ministry, so a lot of opportunities to find something that you enjoy within that space."

Now Annabel works with charity organisation Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou.

"We support the tamariki and whānau of people in prison or serving a community-based sentence. Pillars provides a social work service, youth mentoring service, as well as Family Pathway Centres in prisons – all with the intent to support children and whānau to work towards their goals and create positive futures for themselves. My role is to provide day-to-day management and leadership to the frontline workers, connect with other agencies, and to ensure we are delivering our core services and strategy.

"I really connect to the values and kaupapa of the organisation and enjoy working with a passionate team."

Annabel is definitely happy with how her study life and career has turned out, from her newfound subjects she discovered while at UC.

"The fact that I did subjects that I enjoy makes it all worthwhile. The key thing I have found is that as long as you try new things, find what you really love, and stay focused, you will succeed and have fun along the way. Just be open minded, and you might surprise yourself and enjoy subjects you never thought you would — like I did."

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