Sophia Malu

Sophia Malu

Bachelor of Teaching

New Plymouth, New Zealand

TeachNZ Te Huarau Scholarship

Sophia Malu

When Sophia Malu was a child she pretended to be a teacher and would make her younger sister Gabi sit at her feet and listen while she recited stories or taught ABCs.

Fast forward a decade or so and Sophia has a teaching degree and a real class of her own. The 22-year-old graduated from the University of Waikato Tauranga campus in 2022. Now she teaches year 2 students at Welbourn School back in her birth place of New Plymouth.

“It’s the best job ever!” enthuses Sophia. “It’s so rewarding to see the children making progress in all areas.”

Even though she ended up with the career she originally dreamt of, there was a time in between when Sophia didn’t know what direction to take.

“When I left Pāpāmoa College I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I tried some distance study,” she says. “Pretty quickly I circled back to teaching because I thought it would be a rewarding career and one that I could travel with and do further study in the future if I wanted to.”

Sophia enrolled at the University of Waikato and worked part-time while she awaited the next teaching intake. Opting to study at the, then, new campus in Tauranga allowed her to stay at home and save money while maintaining the cruisy coastal lifestyle she enjoyed.

In her second year, Sophia was fortunate to receive a $10,000 TeachNZ Te Huarau Scholarship to help with her fees. She recommends all prospective students do their homework to see what scholarships they may be eligible for.

Sophia made some great friends and loved being at the brand new campus but admits it wasn’t all a bed of roses. When Covid-19 forced her to complete some of her final practicum on Zoom during lockdown, Sophia had to get creative to keep the kids engaged. Covid also played havoc with graduation plans so Sophia was happy and relieved to finally be able to graduate with a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) in September 2022.

After a relaxing summer, Sophia is looking forward to seeing a new class of smiling students when she returns to her school. She’s also looking forward to celebrating another graduation milestone when sister Gabi, who followed in her footsteps into the Waikato teaching programme, graduates in early 2023.

Sophia’s advice to other students is to make the most of every opportunity at University that comes their way.

“And have fun, because it goes so fast.”

Sophia Malu

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