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Student story

Hayley Saunders

20 July 2023

"Helping people to thrive is very rewarding..."


Bachelor of Social Work

As part of the WBOP Magic netball team, Hayley spent much of her time on the court and training when she wasn't busy studying at UC.

With an interest in helping people, a Social Work degree was Hayley’s ideal pathway to see her passion into a future career.

"My motivations for Social Work stems from my desire to help others, particularly those who consider themselves in a bad situation," she says. "Helping people to thrive is very rewarding. Social Work also provides a variety of different opportunities which has also appealed to me."

Balancing sport playing for the Mainland Tactix while studying was a challenge, but the help available has made the combination possible.

"The Social Work department and Māori department both showed a great amount of support and understanding regarding my lifestyle, making gaining a degree a realistic opportunity for me."

By winning a UC Foundation Sports Scholarship in its inaugural year, Hayley also got support through UC Sport's Athlete Development Programme, which provides top student athletes with training and health facilities to use on campus.

"It not only financially supported me through my degree but provides many sports science opportunities such as Strength and Conditioning guidance, specific testing, nutrition, mental health and access to equipment," she says. "It's an amazing scholarship that provides elite and up-and-coming athletes with the resources necessary to go further in their given sport."

Social Work at UC was also a good experience with placements in the real world industry.

"I particularly enjoyed the practical elements we had covered, such as learning how to construct a conversation to understand people and their situation as best as possible. I have also enjoyed the child development and mental health papers that we have been required to take throughout the degree," Hayley says.

Outside of Magic, Hayley co-runs a netball coaching and clinic business, and does volunteer work with sexual assault victims within the region.

With her future goals of a career in the social work sector, expanding her coaching business and playing for the Silver Ferns, Hayley has a lot on, but she believes that her time at UC will help her achieve all she wants to.

"I absolutely 100% want to emphasise that UC is a fantastic uni, and I know this because it is not the only university I have attended!" she says. "The departments I have been involved in are very supportive and the content is well-structured, relevant, and interesting. UC provided me with so much support that my goal of finishing my degree alongside playing professional netball was a reality!"

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