World Vision for Waikato grad
6 October 2016
For University of Waikato graduate Alex Hitchmough, getting a job with World Vision New Zealand was the perfect fit.
“I’ve always been interested in international development and social justice,” says the former Mount Maunganui College student. “That’s what led me to study human geography and political science at uni.”
Based in Christchurch, Alex is the School Partnerships Manager for the South Island. Her role involves working with schools to design education and leadership programmes that increase young people's awareness of global issues and empower them to create change.
“Our sessions engage students on a range of issues, such as conflict and refugees, water and sanitation, child rights, education, food and agriculture, natural disasters and economic development,” says Alex.
“My university papers showed me how interconnected our world is and the underlying structural causes of injustice,” she says. “I did a lot of volunteering for refugee support groups in Hamilton while studying which helped me apply a lot of these learnings.”
Alex was a Sir Edmund Hillary scholar at Waikato University because of her talents in dance. As well as fees support, the scholarship programme gave Alex plenty of leadership development opportunities and in her final year she travelled to Nepal as part of the Step Higher Award.
She also went on a university exchange to Lancaster University in the UK, which she says was a great way to explore a different part of the world while still earning credit towards her degree.
After she graduated, Alex worked on youth-outreach programmes in Cambodia and Timor Leste. One programme helped connect rural girls with local female role models through dance performances and work-shopping. The other involved working with Red Cross staff and volunteers to design and implement community initiatives.
“After working in developing countries, I’m so grateful for the amazing lifestyle we have in Aotearoa. We forget how lucky we are,” she says.
If Alex could give one piece of advice it would be for people to pursue their passion.
“Find that thing that’s burning inside you and do everything you can to make that fire burn brighter. Our best work comes from the heart and the world desperately needs more people who have come alive by doing what they love – so pursue this unashamedly.”