Adult learners recognised at Waikato

10 July 2014

Adult Learners' Week 2013

Exceptional: The Vice-Chancellor Prof Roy Crawford with the 2013 Adult Learners’ Award winners  Michelle Urquhart, Raina Clary, Natalie Hemmings, and Sharolyn Archibald, and Committee Chair Prof Brian Findsen.

Four students have had their achievements and efforts recognised with University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor’s Adult Learners’ Awards.

The awards are intended to encourage more adults to access learning opportunities and to celebrate the efforts, academic and personal achievements, and contributions of adult learners. Anton Beaumont, Corban Neeley, Hana Rangiawha and Sharon Richmond each received awards of $1,000 and a kowhai tree, to symbolise continued growth, this week – Adult Learners’ Week.

Michelle’s story

With a husband and two children, one of whom was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome earlier this year, Te Piringa – Faculty of Law student Michelle Urquhart’s academic progress has been remarkable, with a majority of her grades in the A+ to A- range. Studying full-time for the first time this year, her achievements mean she has been invited into the LLB Honours Programme.

Michelle is engaged in many University activities, taking every opportunity to participate in events such as the Norris Ward McKinnon first year mooting competition and the Administrative Law moot. She served as a student volunteer at the recent IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium and is attending the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand Conference.

“As a student, Michelle is always well prepared for class and participates wholeheartedly in class discussion despite a demanding travel schedule from her home in Rotorua. In her local community she serves on the Board of Trustees for Kaharoa School and as a volunteer at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and a Justice of the Peace,” says Professor Brian Findsen, chair of the Adult Learners’ Award committee.

Natalie’s story

Natalie has overcome many personal challenges to not only achieve excellent results as a student but her advocacy and care for others serve as both an inspiration and a model for her fellow students and for teaching staff.

When Natalie Hemmings arrived in New Zealand from the United Kingdom, she spent time working as a learning assistant at Knighton School and this ignited her passion for teaching and learning.

Despite financial hardship, which meant working an extra job in after-school care, Natalie’s determination to become a teacher has not wavered. She has worked extremely hard to achieve an A average while always wanting to know as much as she possibly can and striving for a deeper understanding. Her on-going involvement within the Aronga Māori Paper within the BEd degree programme is testament to her willingness to help and mentor others and to share experiences that may help other students overcome their own barriers and challenges.

Natalie began a campus club called Waikato Action and Awareness Group and has campaigned for Marriage Equality and on social justice issues. She has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to service beyond the requirements of her programme of study.

“Natalie’s tenacity, strength of character and her humility, and her outstanding achievements as a student, make her an excellent candidate for this award,” says Professor Brian Findsen.

Raina’s story

Raina Clary is a model for what it means to be a lifelong learner. She has achieved excellent grades as a Te Tohu Paetahi student while facing very challenging personal circumstances including her husband’s illness and the care of a large family.

A mother of seven children, four of whom are still living at home, Raina has achieved an A average at University while learning te reo at night classes and during recess. She gained a University of Waikato Māori Excellence Award earlier this year and her hard work and commitment have continued in her Bachelor of Teaching degree as a Kākano Rua or Māori medium student.

Raina enjoys being exposed to new ideas and takes every opportunity to learn. She has much to offer those around her and is well-respected by her peers, offering support and encouragement to other students. She is happy to share her life experience and knowledge to help others achieve their own academic goals. Her attendance and participation in class set are evidence of her love of learning and determination to succeed.

Despite her family responsibilities and a busy life outside University, including roles as soccer coach and singing teacher, Raina has made the most of every opportunity University life has to offer.

“Raina is a model and an inspiration for students and staff alike and is a very worthy nominee for this award,” says Professor Brian Findsen.

Shelley’s story

Leaving the corporate world after thirty-seven years to study at university, Shelley Archibald has been an exceptional student and an innovative and dedicated tutor. She has successfully balanced a highly demanding course of study which includes a double major in Psychology and Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management while completing a Diploma in Business.

Shelley was last year named on the Dean’s List of high academic achievement and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.

Entering tertiary study as a mature student, Shelley’s passion and determination have been an inspiration to her fellow students and staff. She is a strong advocate for Māori culture within the University, contributes strongly back into her programme and has been a devoted and very successful tutor and mentor for the Māori student community. She developed new teaching methods in her tutorials which have been adopted by course convenors.

Shelley’s commitment to learning has seen her achieve an outstanding grade average at or near an A+. This has been achieved in the face of challenging personal circumstances including a demanding travel schedule between Hamilton and Tauranga.

“Shelley’s dedication, passion and generosity and her exceptional achievements as both a student and tutor mean she is a very deserving nominee for this award,” says Professor Brian Findsen.

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