Ken and Ben York sound like they could be a double act, and so they were at EIT Hawke’s Bay’s recent graduation ceremony.
The Waipukurau father and son shared the experience of parading through the streets of Hastings and being capped in the traditional ceremony staged at the Hawke’s Bay Opera House – Ken with a Diploma in Programming and son Ben with a Bachelor of Computing Systems.
They are now pursuing further studies, although on different campuses.
Born and raised in the USA, Ken is springboarding off the Bachelor of Applied Mathematics he earned from California State University, Northridge, to do a Master of Engineering (Computer Engineering) through Massey University.
Ben is at AUT studying for a Post Graduate Diploma of Computing and Information Science. He intends doing a master’s degree once he’s finished the one-year qualification, but has still to firm up what and where.
Both men say studying together was a positive experience. EIT’s School of Computing students do a lot of group work, and father and son were placed together in an advanced programming class.
Ben found working alongside his father most worthwhile – “his experience and motivation were greater than mine”.
Ken, studying at diploma rather than degree level, borrowed his son’s books and asked him “deep searching questions” to fill in some blanks.
“I think he enjoyed knowing some things more than I did but it wasn’t competitive. There was a lot of cooperation. We helped each other, and that raised the respect we have for one another.”
For Ken, there was also the challenge of going back to study, not just as a mature student, but also as a former tutor for introductory computing programmes offered at EIT’s Central Hawke’s Bay Learning Centre in Waipukurau.
Former colleagues were ‘all very gracious” about being his lecturers last year, he laughs. A programmer when he lived in the USA, he had been some years away from the computing scene and felt in need of “a leg up” to bring him up-to-date with aspects of 21st century programming.
Ken married his New Zealand-born wife Wenda in 1977, and they lived in the USA for some years. But he prefers this country’s green open spaces, and the couple moved to Hawke’s Bay in 1990 to raise a family.
Ben grew up in Waipukurau and attended Central Hawke’s Bay College. His move to the Student Residential Village opposite the EIT campus was a good one, he says – not just for his study but also because it was “easy to connect with the people who lived there – it was impossible to be a hermit!”
The Taradale location meant he wasn’t far from his family and he was able to live off his student allowance while now, in Auckland, he is paying $190 a week just for his accommodation. Ken says living in the student village was also an expression of independence for his son.
Undoubtedly father and son will maintain a keen interest in one another’s progress as they further their studies. Highly focused and great achievers, Ken and Ben York are always going to be a hard act to follow.