Vice-Chancellor’s Adult Learners’ Awards 2019 Recipients Announced

5 August 2019

Aspiring social workers, a Māori and Indigenous studies student and mother of five and psychology/philosophy student are the four recipients of the 2019 Vice-Chancellor’s Adult Learners’ Awards for 2019.

These awards are designed to recognize the achievements of outstanding adult learners at the University of Waikato, who have chosen to undertake tertiary study later in life. The awards celebrate these students, the efforts they go through and the academic achievements and social contributions they make.

Recipients must be at least 25 years old, in the second year of part or full-time study at the University of Waikato, and be studying towards an undergraduate qualification. They receive $1,000 each.

The recipients for 2019 are Jay Evans, Scott Johns, Kelly Robyns and Amanda Smith.

Scott Johns is in his second year studying a Bachelor of Social Work, as he was inspired by social workers he has met throughout his life. He chose to study at the University of Waikato as the social work programme was recommended to him by previous students. Prior to commencing study, Scott worked as a charter boat skipper and stevedore. After he completes his study he intends to become a social worker and focus on learning Te Reo Maori.

Kelly Robyns is also in her second year studying a Bachelor of Social Work, and chose the degree after experiencing the gaps in support and diagnosis systems as a single parent to a child with ADHD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Sensory processing issues. As a social worker, she hopes to change some of those systems, and help other parents gain easier access to support networks and assistance. She enjoys the quality of face-to-face teaching available at the University of Waikato, and being around people with similar goals.

Prior to starting her degree, Kelly worked as a Territory Sales Manager for Coca-Cola, with disabled adults at Avalon and has also owned her own café business. The $1,000 award will help take the pressure off juggling medical bills and everyday life, and with the purchase of textbooks.

In her second year at the University of Waikato, Amanda Smith is working towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Māori and Indigenous Studies, which she chose as she believes Māori and Indigenous studies at Waikato are second-to-none.

“Māori and Indigenous knowledge systems are carving out spaces in our learning academies, recognizing the value in alternative systems of knowledge outside of the Western paradigms,” says Amanda.

“The Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies offers some amazing papers that are breaking new ground, and the high caliber of teaching staff is unrivalled.”

She is a mother of five, and the money from this award will go towards living costs for herself and her children, as well as books and equipment to aid her study.

Jay Evans is halfway through a Bachelor of Social Sciences, majoring in Psychology and Philosophy, and is interested in “deep, systematic investigation of human experience and developing strong critical thinking and communication skills.”

She decided to study at Waikato as she met with a Future Students Advisor who was supportive and encouraging of her choosing to study later in life, and she enjoys the high quality of teaching staff, learning support available and diversity of staff and students. Jay will use the scholarship to help with living expenses, and is still formulating her plans for the future.

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