Graduating in a bubble

Last week was bittersweet for many graduates, with lockdown putting a stop to the big graduation celebrations they’d imagined. But that didn’t keep them from having a good time. We caught up with a few graduates to see how they celebrated in their bubbles.

Leisha Ferguson (left) and Kendall Rouse (right) both managed to celebrate a special graduation day from within their bubbles.

Kendall Rouse – Bachelor of Education (Teaching)

What did you do to celebrate your graduation?

I actually had nothing planned, as I had deferred my graduation in the hopes that we will be able to celebrate later in the year. I had been working from home all day and was surprised by my sister joining our bubble bringing a homemade gown and hat with an invitation to get ready for a 4pm ceremony.

My family organised a banner, balloons and flowers outside on the deck and made me walk across our "stage". We then had takeaways (the first since lockdown, which made it taste even better), and some cake. It was certainly a home graduation to remember! I still have my fingers crossed to celebrate with the people I studied with.

What’s your best memory from your time at University?

Uni was definitely an interesting time! It is a lot of fun, but there are some stressful times and you have to be really committed to what you are doing. I think my favourite thing was learning a lot about myself through the experience, especially studying teaching. Teaching is definitely a career that allows you to grow and change, and that all started with my degree. I also met some amazing people, some who are now really close friends and understand the job more than others around me.

What are you doing now that you’ve finished studies?

I am now a beginning teacher, I absolutely love my job and my students. I seriously believe it is the best job in the world! It can be stressful and all-consuming at times, but the payoff is amazing and I love going to work in the mornings, even if that is a Zoom call at the moment.

Leisha Ferguson – Bachelor of Education (Teaching)

What did you do to celebrate your graduation?

I was working at school, as I am a teacher in a small bubble of five kids. The school staff and children surprised me with a "Lockdown Graduation". It was complete with a makeshift graduation gown and hat, a parade down the school court and treats and snacks afterwards! I also had a Zoom call later that evening with some of my friends from the faculty.

What’s your best memory from your time at University?

The friends I made, and the study sessions together with lots of coffee and snacks.

What are you doing now that you’ve finished studies?

I am teaching full-time with a class of Year 3 and 4 students which I am really enjoying. It is a great age to teach!

Kristen Peters highlights her friendships with classmates as a highlight of study in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. While she couldn't see them in person, she video called them to celebrate graduation day.

Kristen Peters – Bachelor of Education (Teaching)

What did you do to celebrate your graduation?

We had a video call between seven of us who would have been graduating yesterday. Since lockdown began, we have been catching up almost every weekend as a group, but we decided to get together a couple of nights early last week. It's been great to catch up with everyone and share some laughs. Three of us are in the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) (Honours) programme, three of us are teaching and one of us is on the other side of the world. I think a lot of us are hoping that there still might be something that celebrates our accomplishment once we are able to be in groups again.

What’s your best memory from your time at University?

I really enjoyed working with my group of friends on projects and discussions. I think part of what made this so wonderful to me was that we were all so different. We had over 20 years difference in age, from the youngest in our group to the oldest. Some of us had been married and had kids for a decade and a half, others lived with parents or flatmates. Some of us excelled in primary and high school, while others squeaked by. I think all of these different perspectives made for an amazing group experience. I've said before that something led me to these people – I probably wouldn't have met any other way than by going to Uni with them, and I wouldn't have made it through Uni without them.

What are you doing now that you’ve finished studies?

Right now I am in the Honours Programme with the Woolf-Fisher Award. My study is a little different than I expected, now that I'm at home in my bubble with my three boys and my husband who is an essential worker, but we're making it and I'm still learning a lot!

Pelimani Fisi'iahi (second from left) says the friends he made throughout his uni experience have become whānau to him.

Pelimani Fisi'iahi – Bachelor of Education (Teaching) in South Auckland

What did you do to celebrate your graduation from home?

Unfortunately I am currently away from home so I wasn't able to celebrate my graduation with my family. Instead, I did a gruelling workout and then obliterated a whole batch of chocolate caramel brownies straight after.

What’s your best memory from your time at University?

Building relationships with my classmates, other student cohorts, support staff, lecturers and tutors. At first I thought I had made some really good friends but it ended up being more than that. I am proud to say that I have come out of the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) programme with a genuine group of people I now call whānau. It was these people that gifted me with the most incredible memories, valuable lessons and showed me love and support when I needed it the most.

What are you doing now that you’ve finished studies?

I am completing my Bachelor of Education (Teaching) (Honours) this year as well as some tuakana mentoring for the University, and relief teaching. I am working towards becoming a principal one day and also to be involved in running the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) programme in South Auckland, so I can give back to the staff who helped me get to where I am today. I aspire to write journal articles around Māori and Pasifika people and have some form of impact on marginalised communities within New Zealand and around the world.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Massive respect to those of you studying through this pandemic, hang in there and don't be afraid to ask for help!

Did you do something special to celebrate graduation?

We'd love to hear about it! Get in touch to share your graduation story.

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