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Student story

Ryan Keen

20 July 2023

Ngāi Tahu

"Doing a double degree in Arts and Law is a great combination as it provides a lot of variety..."


Having grown up in Christchurch, Ryan had a strong desire to put his Law degree to positive use within Christchurch’s post-earthquake community.

“I would love to contribute, even if only in a small way, to the rebuild,” he says. “I'm particularly passionate about family and property law, but one of the many benefits of a Law degree from UC is that it has given me the opportunity to get a strong grounding in a variety of different legal topics.”

UC has set up a number of initiatives designed to give legal help to locals and, along with other students, Ryan volunteered at the Community Law Centre while studying, where he gained valuable real-world experience in this area.

When he was making his decisions about university study, it was a ‘no-brainer’ that Ryan should study towards an Arts degree, as he had always loved books, reading and language. He opted to take on a Law degree as well to give himself more options.

“I worried about how employable I would be when I was done so I figured I would give Law a go. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it and how engaging it is – it's a healthy combination of logical thinking and utilisation of the English language. Doing a double degree in Arts and Law is a great combination as it provides a lot of variety.”

Ryan completed his Law degree and finished off his Arts degree part-time while working towards his Professional Legal Studies.

He had faced more challenges than most students, being legally blind, but he found the support available at UC minimised this.

“Right from my first visit to UC I was impressed with how committed the staff were to seeing me succeed. As a visually impaired student, it's even more daunting to enter tertiary education but everyone was so friendly and helpful.

“I could not have got through University without the help of the Equity & Disability Service (EDS). The staff are compassionate, sensitive, organised and resourceful in breaching the gap that a disability brings to University life. They worked with me to put a variety of supports in place that made me feel as though I was just like everyone else. Words cannot convey how thankful I am for the support they provided and how useful it was in helping me succeed at UC.’

Ryan adds that UC’s reputation as a campus university that contains so many of its own facilities doesn’t do justice to how centrally located it is within Christchurch.

“UC is very accessible. Public transport in Christchurch is outstanding which made it easy for me to get there.”

The people he met through studying was a highlight of his time at UC. In his spare time, Ryan was a leader in local youth group Q-topia, and had been closely involved with some of the numerous clubs that are part of the UCSA.

“The lecturers are intelligent yet humble people who go out of their way to help you do well. They will stop and talk to you if they see you around campus. The various student societies on campus have also provided a means of meeting new people and trying new things.”

After graduating his Arts degree and completing his professional studies, Ryan took up a fixed term role in Wellington at Simpson Grierson as part of a parental leave cover, working in the commercial property and local government teams doing a combination of transactional and litigation support work.

Later returning to Christchurch and joining Corcoran French, Ryan is currently a Solicitor specialising in residential and commercial property sales, leasing and business transactions.

“The people are friendly, incredibly good at what they do and down to earth,” Ryan says.

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