EIT valedictorian Nicola Heasley believes there’s a lot of hype around leaving Hawke’s Bay to study at university.
“A lot think it’s better,” the Bachelor of Business Studies graduand says of a university as compared to a polytechnic education, “but I disagree with that. It’s a perception, and now that I’ve completed my degree I disagree with it.
“There’s nothing essentially different about the quality of degrees offered, you learn the same information.”
During her final year at Hastings’ Girls High School, Nikky “chopped and changed” about where to pursue tertiary studies. Finally she felt she had made up her mind. Arriving on the university campus to study for a Bachelor of Management Studies, however, she found herself surrounded by a sea of people.
“I felt quite overwhelmed by the hundreds of people in the lecture theatre.”
Three weeks later, she moved back to Hawke’s Bay. And although she had worried people would see that as giving up too soon, she was applauded by many for making her decision so early.
“I had made friends and was really enjoying the social aspect of that experience. But education is such a massive investment and I felt I would have more support at EIT.
“I knew it was the right decision after my first lecture at EIT. The lecturers offered a lot of support. They know your strengths and weaknesses and help you along the way.”
Although the academic year was underway, Nikky was offered a Year 13 degree student grant.
Her studies also provided opportunities to gain practical experience by working in local businesses and she found many of these companies prefer to employ EIT graduates like herself.
“Hawke’s Bay has such a great social scene, and we have a lot of entrepreneurs who are creating wonderful opportunities.”
Halfway through her degree, she started working part-time for Tomoana Warehousing Ltd. As a final semester project, she introduced a Government-funded EECA initiative to enable the local transport and logistics company’s truck drivers to become more fuel efficient.
When she completed her degree, Nikky was offered a full-time position as project support coordinator.
It’s busy, she says, particularly as the business has grown significantly over the last couple of years. The company now operates 45 trucks.
“My job involves a lot of variety, which is exactly what I wanted. I knew from a young age that I wanted to get into road transport.”
Nikky’s family has a strong background in the transport industry. Her grandfather Dick Heasley, who managed a local transport company, along with father Geoff Heasley and boyfriend Sam Howell, both truck drivers, were among those attending the capping ceremony held at Napier’s Municipal Theatre.
While she felt a little nervous about delivering a speech on behalf of fellow graduates, Nikky enjoyed reflecting on her study experience.
“From day one, you want it to be over and living the dream job. But the time, right through to the last exam, it just goes so quickly.
“And you learn so much, including about yourself. Studying at degree level tests so many different aspects including your motivation, stress levels and determination,” she says.