Awhina Whakarua

'My degree helped me get my current job and I couldn't be happier...'

  • Awhina whakarua

(Ngāti Kahungunu)

Bachelor of Arts in Human Services and Māori and Indigenous Studies

Acting House Supervisor, Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne, Australia

Even as a child, Awhina would get involved in helping others with special needs. 'I have always enjoyed working with people and have always wanted to help people. When I was at primary school I would volunteer my lunch time to the disabled unit at the school, taking the kids into the playground or playing with the kids in the unit.'

Having graduated with her UC degree, Awhina currently works in Australia for the DHHS under Victoria State Government, managing staff for a 24 hour community residential unit with clients that need high-quality disability support.

‘My BA in Human Services and Indigenous Studies has been a major part in getting my foot in the door and being able to broaden my experience and share my knowledge. I have now worked in the disability sector in Christchurch, Brisbane and now Melbourne since graduating.

‘I believe my degree was the key to successfully securing my positions over other candidates. My career is flourishing and I am currently looking to move up to Operations Manager one day in the near future!’

When it came to qualifications, the Human Services programme at UC offered the perfect balance between academic courses, such as Sociology, and professional degrees, such as Social Work.

‘The courses I took in Human Services have helped me with my current job, but taking Māori and Indigenous Studies helped me “find myself”, which has given me more confidence as a Maori student.

'I enjoyed my courses and I had great lecturers and tutors. My degree helped me get my current job and I couldn't be happier.

'Overall, the degree gave me the confidence to go out into the big world and apply the knowledge I had to my job.'

For Awhina, the relationships that can be built while studying at university remain one of the highlights of her time at UC.

‘I really enjoyed the UC culture. There is so much support there to help you succeed. Everyone is friendly, and you all help each other to get to the end.

‘Study groups are awesome too. Not only do you meet study buddies, but you also make good lifetime friends.’

Awhina says that Māori students should definitely make use of the Whare on campus: ‘You meet great people, have awesome events during the year, and everyone helps each give the extra push when needed to get you to the finish line.’

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