Mikayala Cooper

Former Raglan College student Mikayla Cooper is studying full-time at the University of Waikato but can still work on the family farm, thanks to the University’s Te Ara ki Angitū programme.

In 2011, Mikayla Cooper and her family moved to an 1800-hectare sheep and beef farm in Raglan. Little did they know the move would kick-start a strong passion for farming and agriculture in Mikayla.

Six years later, Mikayla is in her first year of a Bachelor of Management Studies degree, majoring in agribusiness at the University of Waikato, thanks to the University’s Te Ara ki Angitū: Pathways to Excellence programme.

The programme, which is designed to make university study more accessible to students in the Waikato region, means Mikayla can study and still live at home. She travels between the University’s Hamilton campus and Raglan every day and spends her weekends working on the farm.

“I help out with everything on the farm and I enjoy every part of it – especially training the dogs. I would love to be a farm consultant one day, which means I would advise farmers on how to best run their business.”

In addition to the guidance and support she receives from the programme, Mikayla is also a recipient of a Te Ara ki Angitū Scholarship, which contributes $5000 to her course fees.

“It’s pretty amazing to have the opportunity to come to the University and it’s thanks to the University’s Te Ara ki Angitū programme that I’m here. It takes away a lot of financial stress and allows me to focus on my studies.”

For Mikayla, studying agribusiness has always been a no-brainer, but she considered several universities. After thoroughly researching her options and talking to her friends and teachers, Mikayla decided that Waikato was the right fit for her.

As the first in her family to attend university, Mikayla is making her parents proud.

She is grateful for the large support network which has helped her to transition from school to university. In addition to regular Te Ara ki Angitū meetings, which are used to catch up on student progress, she receives support from her Māori mentor in the Te Puna Tautoko programme, a support network for Māori students at the University of Waikato.

“It’s been amazing to have support from so many different people – it makes my life so much easier. I would definitely recommend that Raglan students look into the University of Waikato’s Te Ara ki Angitū programme because it makes life at university so much easier.”

Mikayla is also a recipient of the Academic Merit School Leaver Scholarship and a Greenlea Foundation Trust Scholarship.

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.