Cherry Smith

Bachelor of Teaching, Master of Education


Key Info

  • Bachelor of Teaching
  • Master of Education
  • Education

Ngāi Te Rangi

  • Waikato Taught Postgraduate Scholarship

Once a high school drop-out, now a masters student with first class honours, Cherry Smith has come a long way. At the University of Waikato, Cherry has found pathways to grow her love of teaching, developed a fascination with life transitions, and discovered a lot about herself along the way.

Living in Taranaki, Cherry chose the University of Waikato for the Faculty of Education’s strong reputation and its ability to accommodate distance-learning students. She enrolled in a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) in 2009.

“After talking to a school principal I respected about which university he’d hire teachers from, I decided Waikato was the right choice,” Cherry says. “This was re-affirmed when friends who had studied here agreed they’d found Waikato very supportive.”

While completing her bachelor’s degree, Cherry sometimes stayed at Te Kohinga Mārama Marae on the Hamilton campus. During one week-long noho, Cherry discovered she was related to the kaiwhakahaere/manager of the marae, who knew where her great-grandfather was from.

“It was incredible to finally find out the iwi/hapū I am affiliated with, Ngāi Te Rangi,” she says. “I had been searching for years for information about my maternal great-grandfather, but without success. I’m not often stuck for words, but I was that day!”

After finishing her degree then working as a primary school teacher for four years in Waitara, an opportunity arose to study and be paid her teacher’s salary. Then, after her first year of study, received the Waikato Taught Postgraduate Scholarship.

“I jumped at the chance to do paid study and decided to start my Master of Education – it was like winning lotto.”

While studying for her masters, Cherry took a human development transitions paper, an experience she calls “life-changing”.

“I began to see transitions everywhere and the theoretical knowledge I gained helped to explain some unsettling transitions in my own life,” she says. “I became fascinated by life transitions and the impact they have on us all.”

Cherry is now a part-time tutor at the University of Waikato. She hopes to one day develop an alternative, sustainable education system primarily for students who do not “fit the mainstream”.

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