Powering ahead with diploma studies at EIT Hawke’s Bay, solo mum Kylie Ellen has some compelling advice for young women leaving school and heading out into the wider world.
“Don’t get pregnant,” she urges, “and don’t have kids young unless it’s really financially right.”
Kylie has learnt from hard-won experience that teenage parenthood can be very tough indeed.
Raised in Waipukurau, she considers she did pretty well at school before launching into a health science and technology course in Palmerston North. Free of the constraints of home and school, Kylie lost her way.
“I got caught up in the whole student life thing, so the year was more about going out and partying than my studies. I didn’t complete after finding I was pregnant.”
Kylie found being a young mum really hard going.
“Iziah was a very demanding baby, and, at 19, I feel I was only a child myself.”
Moving back to Waipukurau to live close to her mother helped, but she recalls being moody and frequently tearful as she struggled to cope with her son’s feeding patterns.
Five years on, she now finds motherhood rewarding – but still says it’s the hardest thing she’s ever undertaken.
When Iziah was still a toddler, Kylie travelled a bumpy road in search of her “niche”. Moving towns and even trans-Tasman, she laboured in pack houses and vineyards before settling in Napier and taking on her first post-baby science studies.
EIT’s 17-week Certificate in Science was just the entry-level programme she was looking for – “it’s a really good starting point for someone wanting to get into a science career”.
Kylie admits the study regime was challenging – “but in a good sense”. She took on board constructive comments offered by lecturers marking her assignments and finally achieved an A+, an A-, a B and a B- in her four subject areas.
“I put a lot of effort into that,” she says.
Told she could carry on her study with the EIT Diploma in Applied Science, Kylie thought, “why not?” Anticipating having that qualification under her belt, she says she is looking forward to getting into the workforce and earning some money.
“I do have a great drive to work, I just want a job I enjoy.”
Kylie hopes to find a position as a laboratory technician or a meat inspector.
“A lab technician’s job in the food industry would be good.”
Having “grown up a bit now”, she is focused on being somebody her bright and musical son can be proud of – “he motivates me,” she says with a smile.