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The latest group of NorthTec nursing graduates who are ready to join the workforce celebrated their success with family, friends and tutors.
The group of 41 students was farewelled from NorthTec with a moving ceremony held at Te Puna o Te Mātauranga marae.
NorthTec nursing staff spoke of the hard work and dedication required to get through the Bachelor of Nursing programme, and the unique personal journeys undergone by all the students.
Each student then addressed the large crowd of supporters at the marae, and paid tribute to those who had supported them through their studies - including parents, partners and children, close friends, their fellow students and their tutors.
The new nurses will graduate formally at the annual NorthTec ceremony held in March. With two intakes of students each year, the nursing department traditionally holds a marae-based whakawatea event twice a year, in July and November, to say goodbye to the students as they head off to jobs in the health sector.
A nursing graduate’s story – Katarina Tamehana
For one graduate, the ceremony marked the end of four years of hard study time. Katarina Tamehana, from Kaikohe, started back in 2013 at the Kerikeri campus with a Certificate in Foundation Studies at level 3, followed by a level 4 Certificate in Academic Studies.
The skills and confidence she gained enabled her to get onto the Bachelor of Nursing programme, and, now aged 25, she celebrated the end of the programme in front of her proud whānau.
Katarina said when she was young she wanted to be a doctor, but realised that the people contact within nursing was really what she wanted for her career. She also helped her grandfather care for her sick grandmother at home until she passed away, and learned from this very personal experience.
Katarina said: “I felt overwhelmed and I felt really proud at the ceremony, because I had my son when I was 19 and before he came along I wasn’t doing anything with my life, I was just on the dole and going nowhere.
“Then when my son came along I realised I couldn’t do this with my life, I was now responsible for someone else and I decided it’s time to get on with it – I didn’t want to be just another statistic.”
Katarina enrolled at NorthTec and found that she really enjoyed her Foundation Studies programme. She said: “I didn’t have much confidence in myself, but doing the level 3 gave me the confidence and then I did the level 4, which did wonders for me.”
Having worked hard on her degree, Katarina is now delighted to have a job lined up at Whangarei Hospital’s paediatric ward, where she completed her clinical work placement. She will start work there in January.
At last week’s whakawatea she was supported by whānau including her son, now aged five, her parents and her grandfather. Despite being reliant on an oxygen supply, her grandfather travelled to Whangarei and spoke on behalf of the whānau – the first time he had been on a marae since becoming ill.
At the event Katarina acknowledged her tutors, including Principal Nursing Lecturer Norma Scobie. Norma had overheard Katarina saying how much she would like to change her work placement to the paediatric ward, and worked hard to enable the student to make a last-minute change and start on her way to her dream career.
Katarina said: “I think that NorthTec is a wonderful place, and being Māori it is a wonderful place to study. They are really encouraging and there is just a lot of support out there for us.”
She added: “I dedicate my degree to my parents who have backed me since day one. Without their endless support and encouragement I would never have gotten this far. They have always believed in me and for that I will forever be grateful and forever in their debt.”
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