Celebrating UC excellence in early childhood education

05 December 2022

For both Kim Driscoll and Huirong (Suki) Yi, the pandemic sparked a new direction by unlocking a passion to study for careers in early childhood education.

  • Kim Driscoll and Huirong (Suki) Yi

    The pandemic sparked a new direction for Kim Driscoll and Huirong (Suki) Yi, who both studied early childhood education at UC.


Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: Quality Education

Suki Yi is looking forward to receiving her University of Canterbury (UC) Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Early Education) this month and celebrating her success with whānau and friends. Cromwell-based Kim Driscoll is also delighted to have completed her diploma and to have secured a permanent full-time role as an early childhood teacher.

When Suki came to Aotearoa from China in December 2019, teaching young children was not on her radar. While she had majored in education in her undergraduate degree in China, her working life had been in other fields – but spending two months in lockdown with a young family in Arrowtown proved life changing.

“I became really focussed on further study and wanting to recharge my life,” she says. Finding a friendly and supportive team at UC, Suki enrolled in the UC graduate diploma course to qualify as an early childhood teacher. Throughout the programme, she demonstrated high levels of excellence and, in her professional practice placements, impressed fellow teachers with her competence, capability and vision.

“I took every opportunity to try out what I had learned and really enjoyed seeing how empowering that was for the children. I’m now looking forward to finding a nature-based centre where I can serve children and their families.”

After graduating with a BA in History and Religious Studies from Victoria University, Kim Driscoll spent a decade working in the luxury travel market. A mother of two boys, Kim had long considered a career in early childhood education as she was inspired by the valuable contribution made by teachers in the sector.

The collapse of the travel industry in 2020 gave her the push she needed to enrol at UC. Juggling a full home life and work commitments, Kim completed her graduate teaching diploma in early education as a part-time student. She is described by lecturers as an exceptional student who will be an exceptional teacher.

“What I have learned has made a huge difference,” says Kim. “It’s incredible to see how everything comes together so you build children up in their social and emotional competencies that help them to learn. The team at UC was excellent. I mostly studied by distance but found the lecturers were all super supportive.”

Kim worked part-time at Little Wonders Cromwell throughout her course of study, but since completing the diploma has been appointed as a full-time permanent teacher in the toddlers’ room.

Media contact:

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