Student Profile

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Lakeisha Cummings - Social Work

“All the odds were against me, so if I can do this degree course anyone can. I’m a foster child brought up in state care, I’m of Māori descent and I was kicked out of school at year 11. I looked down on my social worker and was determined to never be that, but my own experiences has now served to light my passion to help others in similar situations. Because I know how that path feels, I can encourage and work with people at a different level. I’m only 18 so I can really relate to youth.”

“My realisation that I wanted to study and work in social services only happened after I transitioned from state care into a residential home and lived independently. I also realised that because I had left school with nothing, university wasn’t an option for me, so I started my study path at a foundation course at NorthTec in hospitality, then did the certificate in Health and Wellbeing. Over the holiday break I found the courage to commit to doing this degree course. I’m all in it for the youth.”

“I am totally loving learning so many new skills and I feel so supported here as an individual and as a Māori. The wairua of the whole class and tutors supports our mana. We’re all different ages, cultures and gender, and we’re on different paths but we’re all in the same waka and we’re all passionate about being here. Listening and learning from each other gives us different perspectives.”

“Because I dropped out of school, I’m more hands-on and don’t like paperwork but my passion to learn and the support here is helping me focus on study. Because I’m young, another challenge is balancing study with the pull from my friends for social life.”

“Since I’ve been here, I'm amazed at the massive growth in myself and in others on the course. It has transformed my sense of self, and when I get my degree I’m keen to serve as a role model for rangatahi. I did some work with an organisation called VOYCE (Voices of the Young and Care Experienced) as a result of a work placement with Oranga Tamariki in the Health and Well Being course, and I’m now a paid intern for VOYCE and on their National Youth Council.”

“I came from so far down and now I have some exciting options ahead of me. When I finish the degree, my dream is to continue to study with a Master of Social Work and then maybe a degree in clinical psychology. I want to work my way up to parliament and be part of changing the laws that impact the youth of today.”

“To kids out there in care – if you get shut down, look for new doors to open. If you go off track, make a new way forward. How we deal with things shows what we’re made of. Live your own time line, and keep doing you.”

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