Celebrating adult learners

8 October 2018

This year's Adult Learner Award winners.

The academic and personal achievements of seven University of Waikato adult learners were acknowledged at a special awards ceremony hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley last Friday.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Adult Learner Awards were established in 2001 to celebrate the efforts, achievements and contributions of adult learners, and form part of the University’s commitment to lifelong learning. The awards are intended to encourage students over the age of 25 to access learning opportunities and to acknowledge the importance of adult learning to the wider community. Nominations are made by academic staff based on their students’ commitment, determination and contribution to student life.

Professor Quigley says adult learners are particularly distinctive to the University of Waikato. “We have the highest proportion of adult learners of any university in New Zealand, and this is something we are very proud of,” he says. “Pursuing further education can be a challenge later in life, especially when you have family and work commitments also competing for your time. Acknowledging that learning is a lifelong pursuit is a key reason why the Adult Learner Awards were established.”

Award recipient Grant Rutherford with Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley.

Award recipient Grant Rutherford is delighted to be recognised for his learning. The Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance student is profoundly deaf, but that hasn’t stopped him from achieving his career and study goals. “I’d like to thank Associate Professor Clive Pope for nominating me – receiving this award means so much to me,” he says. “I’ve worked really hard to get here, so I feel a great sense of accomplishment.”

Grant credits his wife for inspiring him to persevere. “She’s been there for me during my studies, and I really appreciate her support,” he says. “The University’s Accessibility Services have also helped me massively with my learning, by providing sign interpreters and note-takers.” Once he graduates, Grant is planning to work as an exercise specialist, supporting deaf athletes in the areas of strength and conditioning.

Tauranga-based Bachelor of Teaching student Erica Steel was humbled to be acknowledged for her commitment to the University and helping others. Alongside her fulltime studies, the mother of three is a reliever at an  early childhood education centre, a volunteer scout leader, treasurer of the student support group Mana ake ki Tauranga Moana and a student ambassador. Erica credits her tertiary education success to her family’s unwavering support.

Award recipient Erica Steel with Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley.

“I couldn’t have done it without my husband. He always motivates me and looks after the kids when I’m busy. Every time I get an A grade at uni, he takes the whole family out to celebrate, so my kids are excited for my success too! I’m also really grateful for the laid-back culture and strong support systems at the Tauranga campus – they have helped me through some busy times!”

Erica hopes that her example will encourage her three young children to strive for academic success. “Growing up, I had some trouble in school, so it’s nice to be showing my kids the importance of working hard,” Erica says. “Since I began studying hard at uni, they have both started to put more effort in at school, so I'm really proud.”

This year’s recipients – Laurence Cockrell, Naomi Glover, Chaquila Venter, Bryce Jamieson, Garth Tunnicliffe, Grant Rutherford and Erica Steel – each received $1000 and a certificate.

Latest stories

Related stories

Nathan Bailey, inaugural recipient of the Tauranga Moana Futures Scholarship

Scholarship enables inaugural recipient to contribute to the redevelopment of Tauranga City

University of Waikato first-year Bachelor of Engineering student Nathan Bailey is the inaugural recipient of…

Ally Wollaston with a gold medal at the UCI Nations Cup track competition in Jakarta.

Three golds for cyclist Ally Wollaston

University of Waikato law student and Hillary Scholar Ally Wollaston has returned to New Zealand…

Waikato alumnus awarded prestigious University Medal.

The University of Waikato has awarded its prestigious University of Waikato Medal to alumnus Rob…

Responding to the Nursing workforce crisis: Doubling the intake of nursing students at Waikato for 2023

The University of Waikato has welcomed a record 211 new students into its Registered Nursing…

An ocean of possibilities in marine research at University of Waikato

Researchers at the University of Waikato are turning to the ocean to clean up our…

Jasmine Campbell

Exchange students fly high in Denmark and Singapore

While most of us were on summer holiday, a group of third-year University of Waikato…

Algae to economics: academic promotions announced

The University of Waikato has announced its latest round of academic promotions.

Tauranga scholarships provide a pathway to tertiary study

Two scholarships on offer at the University of Waikato are helping to make tertiary study…

Prime Minister’s Scholarship students getting ready to fly

While most of us are winding down to a relaxing holiday season, a number of…

Nicola Daly

New children’s literature qualification launches

Are you inspired by Joy Cowley, Gavin Bishop, Selina Tusitala Marsh or Margaret Mahy?

Research partnership supports inclusive coaching practice and disability coach education

A new three-year strategic partnership between Sport NZ and University of Waikato will provide a…

Ngareta Timutimu awarded prestigious University Medal

The University of Waikato has awarded its prestigious University Medal to Ngareta Timutimu (MNZM) recognising…