Hearing law graduate Benny Jones speak about her journey is almost like attending a life coaching seminar – immensely motivational.
Determination, enthusiasm, and grit are words that would accurately describe her success story. Benny immigrated to New Zealand from Nigeria in 2011 after securing an opportunity to work in Waihi as a Water Laboratory Technician for global inspection and certification company SGS. She brought with her a Diploma in Science Laboratory Technology and enthusiasm for the new opportunity.
However, Benny’s life trajectory changed in 2013 when her job and marriage ended, leaving her in Waihi with two young children and limited funds. Despite this, Benny was motivated to overcome her situation and set her sights on a new career.
“I was not going to remain where my circumstances wanted me to be,” she says. “I was driven by the fact that I knew I needed to do something. I didn’t want to waste time while I was at home looking after my children, I also wanted to do something for me, so I thought to myself, ‘what can I do from home?’”
Benny had already spent plenty of time in the family courts going through a lengthy custody process, which was a catalyst to her eventual career change. “I gained exposure to the court process, which was interesting. I didn’t know much about the legal system, and the experience triggered something in me”.
Benny took that trigger along with a desire to use her time wisely and enrolled in a Diploma in Law online at the University of Waikato, committing to study for two years. For her, studying online was an advantage - it allowed her to stay in her Waihi community with her children - but it also required organisational and time management skills.
“You have to be enthusiastic and disciplined to study online. You know what you want to achieve and those essential skills in time management and organisation are what will get you through online study.”
After completing two years of online study, Benny credited her diploma papers to a full Bachelor of Laws, committing to two more years of study and some travel between Waihi and Hamilton to attend lectures.
Benny’s dedication paid off and she completed her LLB in 2020. In April 2021, she became an enrolled barrister and solicitor of the High Court in Hamilton and she now has her sights on a master’s degree with a goal to one day be a Family Court judge.
For students thinking about study Benny encourages them to think big. “Don’t let fear hold you back, your determination and what you want out of life should be the drive.”