Graduate Profile

Lauren Taylor

Lauren Taylor

"NorthTec is not a second-class option, I always felt like going to a polytechnic meant that I wasn't as successful as the rest of my year group who went off to university. Take it from someone who has been to both, NorthTec was a far better option academically and emotionally."

"Choosing a career is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I had many sleepless nights trying to figure it out. After working at an orchid farm for a year after school, I decided I wanted to work with people and so then decided to apply to study a Bachelor of International Tourism Management at AUT. In 2015 I started my first year at university. It would be an understatement to say that it was a shock to the system, my rent was more than my student loan payments, I was living in an unfamiliar city, working part time struggling to achieve Cs. As the year progressed, I became more and more worn out, I took out loans and credit cards to cover my rent and started to dive into a struggle with depression. I felt alone and in over my head. I couldn’t figure out why this was what was advertised as being the right thing to do at school.
"In March of 2016 after doing summer school I decided to move back to Whāngarei to take some time off and try to save to finish my degree. I went back to working at Pak'nSave, feeling embarrassed that I was back doing a low-skill job in order to try and dig myself out of the hole I had dug.
"At the end of the year I signed up to study at NorthTec. I decided that I wanted out of university as it wasn’t for me so I decided to use my knowledge from university to complete the level 3 and 4 tourism certificate, which I completed at the end of 2017.
"Just after I completed my certificate, I was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. My mental health kept declining until I would no longer leave my room. I spent every day at home as I was ashamed of myself. I felt like a failure. For a year I struggled with my mental health and drug addictions. I put on weight and would struggle to make it to my only commitment which was a weekly meeting with my therapist.
"As I started to improve, I wanted to get back into doing something, but I was petrified of failing at a job, so my therapist actually suggested I study NorthTec’s NZ Certificate of Health and Wellbeing.

"I had no intention of getting into the industry, I just wanted to learn more about the things that I had struggled with and to help me get back into work. Attending an interview was one of the scariest things I could think of and would spend countless days fighting the urge to back out.
"I realised that the majority of the struggles I went through were related to where I was living. Auckland was so expensive, it was unfamiliar and I had no support. NorthTec provided a safe place where I had very little to stress about aside from getting my homework in on time. 
"I loved how the Health and Wellbeing programme was structured to really work at everybody's strengths and highlight areas needing improvement. We had a diverse class which meant that many of my classmates had life skills and experiences which were instrumental in helping to develop an understanding of how the theory could be implemented in real life and against our own experiences.
"Throughout the year, part of the assignments were to implement the theory you had learned into your own reflections of your past. It made for some pretty life changing self-discoveries which at the time could be very sobering and confronting. It helped us to look at ourselves in an analytical way that resulted in some profound growth. 
"I had no idea that we would be looking so much into my own experiences, often when we study we are able to hide away behind academic abilities. The H&W course encourages you to have a strong base in all aspects of your life before you go out and help others. I became much more self-aware and have learned my limits, which will be so important when working in high stress situations. I am confident that I can enter work giving it my all without it taking away from myself at the same time.
"Having classmates from a variety of backgrounds, ages and cultures in my class at NorthTec was very different to my time spent at university. The variety helped so much when it came to understanding working with others, relating the theory to real life situations and learning to work with others successfully. I was often pushed beyond what I thought was my limits emotionally and mentally but the diversity meant that I always had support, advice and aroha enveloped around me. I never felt like I was facing those challenges alone. Everyone worked together to help each other through, whether it was a late night FaceTime call to help someone submit an assignment because they struggled with computers or a hug after a particularly emotional day.
"18 Months ago I was on the disability benefit and struggled to find a reason to get out of bed every day. I was lucky if I could find one positive within my day. Today I am working full-time and using my new knowledge to awhi others who are struggling with similar challenges that I faced. I am contributing positively to my community, my own health and wellbeing and feeling more prepared to meet new challenges. I feel confident in my newfound abilities to know and understand myself in a way that helps me to constantly strengthen and grow. The course material, my tutor and my classmates all contributed to my growth.
"What’s next for me? I guess It would be cheesy to say that I just want to be happy, I really just want to wake up in the morning and smile as I breathe in the air of the new day, content with where my life is at, I want to have a job where I don't feel like I am going to work, rather just another day doing what I love."

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