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Mums defy the odds to graduate

June 9, 2019

Jennifer, Stacey and Annie (L-R) are a tight-knit trio, full-time mothers and full-time students.

Stacey, Annie and Jennifer started to study at probably the toughest time in every woman’s life – with small children. Yet these women are a prime example of how real commitment, mentorship and a great network of friends lead to a major accomplishment.

 Stacey is a solo mum and became pregnant with her second child just after she had been accepted at EIT. Annie has four children and at the time three were under five. Jennifer meanwhile, had just moved to Hawke’s Bay with five little ones.

 Despite caring for their children, all three women had come to a point where they felt unfulfilled and ready to upskill to get ahead in the job market. Stacey and Annie got to know each other in the Certificate in Business Administration and Technology class. Together they stair-cased all the way up to the Bachelor in Business (Accounting) which they are studying now.

 During Stacey’s first year at EIT, coming to class was a pure juggling act. The 28-year-old had to drop off her older son at day care while she was allowed to bring her new born to class in case her parents couldn’t help out. “Organising myself became daily routine. My children were in bed by seven and that’s when I sat down to study. On my days off, my parents took the kids and I worked for a friend’s cleaning service,” remembers Stacey.

 Annie had been a stay-at-home mum for years and never had a proper job. With her partner just having finished his degree, the couple reversed roles. “I wanted to get rid of my foggy brain and I was worried that with neither work experience nor qualifications I would not be employable,” says 28-year-old Annie. With the completion of paper after paper – Annie is a straight-A student – her confidence grew and she kept on going.

 Jennifer moved from Auckland to Hawke’s Bay in 2017. She had left school at 15 and despite years in employment, she felt like she wasn’t going anywhere on a personal level.

 “In Auckland, the closest university was one and a half hours away from my house, coming to EIT takes me ten minutes,” she says.  “At the start, the very idea of studying three years towards a Bachelor degree was daunting though. A diploma felt more achievable.” But the 39-year old carried on, thanks to an iron will and Stacey and Annie, whom she met on the course.

 “Certainly we had ups and serious meltdowns,” they admit. Juggling family duties and studying is tough, but embracing all obstacles is a mind-set, they say.  

 Business lecturer Rebecca Clarke is their teacher and mentor. “I have to constantly remind myself that ours is a working relationship,” smiles Rebecca. “I don’t like to look at it like that. They are the reason why I do what I do. I really see myself in these women.”

 Rebecca notes that being a lecturer means seeing the whole person and not just the student. “I don’t expect students to leave their personal life and their issues at the gate. If there are problems popping up, we work around it because I absolutely want them to succeed.”

 Having silenced many naysayers, Stacey, Annie and Jennifer are not far away from completing their degree now. “We are responsible for our own learning and in control of our future,” they say.