After a trying few years, Sharon Malaitai will graduate with a Diploma in Architectural Technology in March.
The Samoan mother-of-five has spent the last two years juggling family, work and study as well as personal struggles.
“I learnt very quickly that things don’t always go to plan and for me to succeed I needed to make some sacrifices and become organised. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband and his family,” she says.
Sharon began her journey with EIT in 2015 with a Certificate in Retail after a wake-up call.
“My daughter, at four-years-old, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and it was then I made the goal to use my time wisely and be an example to my children of what you can achieve. A wise man once said, procrastination is the thief of time, and I wasn’t going to lose any more,” she explains.
The certificate in retail taught her and her family how to organise themselves better so she could study the three-month course and then progress on to her two-year diploma.
“We had to work together. It was important that my children understood why I was studying and why we all had to help out to keep the household running.”
Something that became vital when Sharon was diagnosed with follicular thyroid cancer during October of her first year of her diploma and needed to have an operation to remove the tumour in her throat.
“It pushed me to work harder. My peers and tutors encouraged me to not give up.”
Despite her initial fears that she would need to be a good artist to succeed in architecture, Sharon pushed those concerns aside to try. “No one told me I couldn’t do it, so I did it,” she says.
Now that both Sharon and her daughter are in complete remission, the focus is on learning more about structural engineering and starting her career.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Sharon has a particular fascination with temples.
She decided to pursue a career in architecture in part because of this fascination and because she would like to help people build affordable and sustainable homes. She also hopes to establish her own drafting business.