UCMe - Te Wehenga - Engineering, University of Canterbury, NZ
Te Wehenga Johnson

REINVENT

Te Wehenga Computer Engineering
Te Arawa/Ngāti Rongomai, Ngāpuhi/Ngaitu Te Auru

Tell us about your journey to UC!

As a child I’d always imagined building technology that could help people. However I ended up leaving school at age 16 and spent years working at a job I didn’t like. When my daughter was born I had a moment of clarity that hit me like a thunderbolt and I knew I had to go back to study. If I wanted to tell her to follow her dreams one day, I had to do that myself!

That must have been hugely scary/exciting! Did UC help you with your transition back to study?

Yes, I did the CUP programme before I started. It is literally the most perfect preparation for adults who have been out of school. My favourite part was getting to meet other people on the same journey as me. Some of the friendships I made there will be lifelong. Not to mention learning how to write in an academic style, research, do homework again and everything else I hadn’t used in so many years!

Now that you’re underway in Computer Engineering, what are you enjoying most?

I love blending electrical and software systems together. You end up being able to create so much cool stuff. I also really enjoy the practical side of what we do. That’s how I learn best. There’s a student electrical lab filled with equipment which we can use at any time. It’s like having your own personal workshop! The teachers are really good too. They’re always there to help you when you need it.

What has UC unlocked for you, personally and professionally?

The biggest thing is the people. You make so many new contacts within so many different industries, and those contacts will last for the rest of your life. You also get an amazing wealth of experience. When I started I didn’t even know what software programming was, and now I can programme in three different languages.

"You make so many new contacts within so many different industries, and you also get an amazing wealth of experience."

Any other advice for people who might be thinking about coming back to uni after a break?

100% just do it. It’s worth every penny you spend and every sacrifice you make. There are always challenges in life whether it be mentally, financially or emotionally, but once you get past the obstacles you always come out a much better person. My daughter loves playing with the gadgets I create. I know she’ll be proud of me.