Te Aroha student lives a double life: city by day, country by night

Te Aroha’s Aaliya Barrett has the perfect balance between city and country life, thanks to the University of Waikato’s Te Ara ki Angitū Programme.

Te Aroha native Aaliya Barrett is enjoying living a double life, thanks to the University of Waikato’s Te Ara ki Angitū: Pathways to Excellence Programme. The social sciences student spends her days in Hamilton city, studying at the University campus and exploring the CBD, before returning to the serenity of Te Aroha in the evenings. The balance between the city and the peaceful countryside keeps Aaliya’s life interesting, making her transition to university a lot easier.

Aaliya is a participant in the University’s Te Ara ki Angitū programme, designed to make university study more accessible to students living in regional Waikato by providing support and mentoring, a daily bus service to and from selected towns for $1 a ride, and access to portable learning devices.

Each day, Aaliya catches the bus between her home in Te Aroha and the University of Waikato campus. She uses her time on the bus to relax, usually listening to music or reading while other students sleep. The programme has allowed Aaliya the flexibility to study full-time without leaving the comfort and familiarity of her family home.

“The programme has helped me so much – I didn’t know how I would get to university without the bus service because I can’t drive yet. I love coming back to Te Aroha because it’s great to see my family and be surrounded by people I know.”

The University’s Te Ara ki Angitū programme also allows Aaliya to keep her part-time job in Te Aroha, working evenings and weekends as a carer for the disabled.

“I’m grateful I have an easy way to travel between home and the university and can carry on working. I love my job at home because I feel like I am making a difference and helping others.”

Between classes, Aaliya enjoys using the whānau room, a resource available to Te Ara ki Angitū students for studying, relaxation and socialising.

Aaliya is also a recipient of a Te Ara ki Angitū Scholarship, which contributes $5000 to her course fees.

“Receiving a Te Ara ki Angitū scholarship is my proudest achievement to date. It means so much to me to have this extra support and I would highly recommend other students from Te Aroha look into the programme because it makes the transition from school to university so much easier.”

Aaliya attended Te Aroha College, where her favourite subjects were English and history. After trialing psychology as an elective subject in her final year of high school, Aaliya developed an interest in learning about the way people think. This inspired her to study a Bachelor of Social Sciences at the University of Waikato.

“It was a last-minute decision to study social sciences, but I’m really interested in it and very happy with my choice. The University staff have always been very accommodating and I love that I have the flexibility to try new courses and discover new things.”

She’s loving her psychology major, and is aiming high – planning to work for the Ministry of Health in the psychology sector. She’s also enjoying optional papers in sociology and human development.

In addition to her Te Ara ki Angitū Scholarship, Aaliya also received a Rotary Scholarship, which contributed $1200 to her course fees.

The University of Waikato’s Te Ara ki Angitū: Pathways to Excellence programme was established in 2016 in South Waikato and expanded to other regions in 2017. The programme now reaches 25 schools and communities across Hauraki, Thames-Coromandel, Matamata-Piako, Waikato, Otorohonga, South Waikato and Waitomo districts.