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UC Choice


16 October 2023

Youth and Community Leadership




Why did you choose to study youth work at UC?

I wanted something I could fall in love with. UC is the only uni that offers a youth work-focused degree, and it's flexible so that I was able to incorporate areas of my interest into my degree. I just fell in love with what I could see myself being able to do.

What do you love most about your degree?

We get the opportunity to put our skills into practice and see our progress in building relationships with these young people. We get to see how much of an impact you can make in the young person's life, which is awesome to be part of because you're seeing the immediate effect of your abilities.

Has that hands-on approach taught you anything about yourself?

You learn about the theory and practice, but also a lot about yourself. I’ve learned how I can be quite resilient when faced with a lot of adversity within a challenging situation. It taught me that I am actually good at building connections.

Tell us about your work with Arthritis NZ.

I was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis at age 15. As much as my physical health was affected, so was the emotional side. It was a difficult journey, but it led me to connect with Arthritis New Zealand, which does outreach and advocacy-based things. I formed a Youth Advisory Board within the organisation and we work together on projects and collaborate for advocacy and awareness opportunities.

How has your own experience shaped your path?

Beyond the surface level of the pain, I always think I'm very lucky for my diagnosis because it gave me so many opportunities. It led me to my passions. I found my calling from having my diagnosis, so it definitely ties into what I'm doing.

UC has given me more confidence than I entered with. There's no more fear, no more worry. It’s shown me that I have more skills than just the ones I pay attention to. I’ve become well rounded, I can change, I can adapt. I have self-belief, and it’s fostered other areas of my life to bloom.

What support is there for students with disabilities at UC?

The Student Accessibility Service is amazing. They gave me extra time on exams because writing for too long is painful. They also accommodated me so I could do exams in the afternoon because arthritis is more active in the mornings. It was a great experience all around. I didn’t need to battle or advocate for myself; there was a team of people behind me who all had my back.

Besides youth advocacy, you’ve discovered another passion at UC!

Once I had my arthritis under control, I wanted to do a sport. I had no idea what lacrosse was, but thought it looked cool. At first, I wasn't very good, but the UC Lacrosse team was very encouraging. I kept learning skills and getting better and was even selected to play in the NZ Universities Lacrosse Tournament. I love the community that’s built around the team. It’s a very open, supportive environment.

What advice would you give other students with disabilities?

Speak out. Open up about what you’re experiencing. People at UC want to support and accommodate you, they’re there to help. Don’t let your diagnosis define you. That’s what I live by. If you want to try a sport, go and try, even if you don’t think you can. There are always ways to get involved. Push through it, because that’s really where you find what you love, where you’ll find enjoyment.

Can you sum up your UC experience in 3 words?

Aspire to inspire.

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