Success stories

Find out how some of our past students enjoyed their New Start programme and what they are doing now.

Emma Worthington

Studying for a Bachelor of Arts

I left college the day I turned 15 with no School Certificate, as it was called back then. I walked straight into my first job waitressing and then I travelled the world working in the hospitality industry. After returning to New Zealand in the 1990s I went to UNITEC and embarked on my tertiary study journey, firstly in Business and Supervisory Management at certificate level. I absolutely loved it and thrived on the intellectual stimulation it gave me.

I fell pregnant in my final year and sat my final exams about to go into labour. Four children later, as my last child was starting school, a friend of mine told me about the New Start programme at the University of Auckland. I enquired and enrolled in the first semester of 2011. I am now three quarters of the way through my Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in English and Sociology, with a view of teaching one day.

Along the way I have made some lifelong friends, inspired my children to study at university, and learnt that you are never too old to study towards a new career.

Jessica Hastings

Studying for a Bachelor of Arts

I never imagined that I would become a University student because I did not complete secondary school and lost hope in my educational abilities. Nonetheless, in 2012 I decided to take a leap of faith and enrolled in the New Start programme at the University of Auckland. When I arrived at New Start I was incredibly apprehensive, however I soon made friends and received positive support from staff. Through New Start I learned how to write essays, study effectively and utilise University services. I was also exposed to multiple subjects, which helped me discover what I was passionate about.

New Start was a crucial stepping-stone and undoubtedly assisted my transition into university life. Before I started studying I did not know what a faculty was let alone how to become a successful university student. Despite this, I worked hard, asked questions and received a high mark for my final grade. By the end of New Start I had built up some confidence and skills to help me move forward with my studies. Importantly, I also received a scholarship from the Kate Edger Trust, which I did not expect and am very grateful for. Therefore, I would definitely encourage other students to apply for these kinds of scholarships.

I am currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Education and appreciate being able to choose from a variety of interesting subjects, which align with my future goals. Although I am not entirely sure where I want to work after graduation, some of my ambitions include advising others on educational pathways and designing prison programmes to help rehabilitate within the justice system. Accordingly, I hope to make a positive difference by applying my studies in the real world. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities and assistance I have received from the University of Auckland because studying what I am passionate about has opened my mind to new possibilities and shown me that education can bring about beneficial change.

Roneel Rama

Completed a Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diploma in Teaching

After finishing high school Roneel enrolled in a university degree specialising in information sciences. By the end of his second semester he realised that what he actually wanted to do was become a teacher to help guide the next generation. “When I was in school my history teacher inspired me. In history I learnt about World War I and II, New Zealand and beyond.”

To change his pathway he was advised to enrol in the University of Auckland’s New Start programme in 2010. On completing New Start Roneel entered the University of Auckland Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in History and minor in Ancient History. Through History he was able to see things differently, explore New Zealand history and the world.

His passion for Hollywood movies set in ancient times such as 300: Rise of an Empire and an interest in the foundation of Western democracy helped to build his imagination through Ancient History.

By the end of 2013 he successfully completed his Arts degree. He then spent another year at University to complete the Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary).

In 2015 he secured his dream job as a teacher at Henderson High School. He now teaches Years 9 and 10 students and has a Year 11 form class. “Teaching is an awesome area to work in, it’s so rewarding.”

Roneel is the first of his generation to graduate from a New Zealand university.

Shannon Grant-Mackie

Studying for a Bachelor of Science followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Science

My academic journey as an adult can be categorised into three periods: before New Start, during New Start, and after New Start.

Before New Start, I lacked confidence in my own academic abilities. I was afraid I wasn’t "smart enough" for university study. On the day of the New Start information event, the courage that got me to the venue was quickly replaced by a fear that I didn’t belong in the academic world. I never attended the event.

During New Start, I gained the confidence I so needed for future study. Through exposure to different disciplines, such as psychology and history, coupled with an emphasis on learning as a process not an outcome, New Start built the foundation I needed to not only achieve academic success but to also enjoy the journey. I graduated with a top student award.

After New Start, I entered my chosen field of study armed with the programme’s academic arsenal, confident I could, through hard work, achieve what I aimed for. Throughout my undergraduate degree, the knowledge gained during New Start has proven invaluable at every step of the way. For this I am very grateful.

For anyone who feels they are not "smart enough" to study at university, I say give yourself the opportunity to prove yourself wrong. New Start has given so many students the foundation needed to achieve their academic successes and will undoubtedly continue to do so long into the future.