An EIT radio advert promoting the institute’s Bachelor of Social Work programme convinced Natalya Williams that social work was the career for her and a way for her to help women going through what she had experienced.
When she was younger Natalya (Te Aitanga a Mahaki) thought she would have a career in tourism. However, circumstances changed when she became a mum at 20 to Kylah-Shaye, now three. After a relationship breakup, she was a single mother and she had to make some decisions for her and Kylah-Shaye’s future.
Natalya, who is currently enrolled in EIT’s Bachelor of Social Work programme on the Tairāwhiti Campus, grew up in Gisborne, but says she did not achieve the results she would have liked at high school.
After having her daughter, the desire to study social work grew stronger, but she first needed to learn how to study. She enrolled in the NZ Certificate in Study and Career Preparation [Level 3] programme at Tairāwhiti in 2020, which she followed up with the Free NZ Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Support Work) [Level 3].
“I had wanted to do the NZ Certificate in Study and Career Preparation [Level 4] at the beginning of last year, but that only began in the middle of the year. To fill in the gap, I did the Health and Wellbeing programme and then carried on to the Level 4 programme.”
It was well worth it for Natalya, 23, as it got her back into the rhythm of studying.
“It was really good. I didn’t quite get my qualifications out of high school, so I was able to gain those through the pathway programmes. It has also been really helpful to me now in my social work degree with the assignments and time management.”
Before Natalya started studying at EIT, social work had not been on the horizon as a possible career choice.
“It wasn’t really something I thought I could or wanted to do at first, but that changed with my personal experiences. I heard the ad about the social work programme, and I thought: ‘That’s definitely something I want to do’. It was a case of not wanting other people to go through what I had been through.”
So far it has proved to be the right choice, as Natalya is enjoying the first year of her Bachelor of Social Work degree.
“It has been a really good experience so far and I have good classmates and tutors.”
“We are learning the practice of social work at the moment and what I really like learning about is the wide range of social work there is. If someone says social work, people automatically think Oranga Tamariki, but there is much more to it than that.”
Natalya is not only setting her sights on getting her degree, but she also wants to do well enough to be chosen for the Bachelor of Social Work Honours programme.
She also has no hesitation in recommending the Certificate programmes she did or the Bachelor of Social Work.
“I would recommend EIT as it is a good learning environment and social setting as well.”
Natalya is hoping that her academic journey will not end with an Honours degree as she has dreams of studying even further.
“So I want to go towards medical social work and work specifically mental health, later on I am keen to study psychiatry.”
At the heart of her journey to academia and a future career, Natalya knows what got her there.
“Becoming a mother, my studies, and the great support from my family and now partner, I have really found my place in knowing what I want and should be doing with my life.”
“Without any of it, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to see through my dark times,” she says.
Tania Hagen, the Programme Coordinator for EIT’s Study and Career Preparation [Level 3] programme, says Natalya began her journey with a passion for learning.
“She was always prepared for classes, asked questions and gave everything 100%. Her kind nature was evident throughout levels 3 and 4, where she would guide and support anyone who needed a little extra.”
Natalya’s social work lecturers say that Natalya is quick to point out that her current study habits are attributed to the fact that she has completed the Level 3 & 4 pathways.