Overcoming severe adversity has become second nature to former EIT Tairāwhiti student Kayla Jordan, who is on the brink of graduating with a Bachelor of Business Studies (Accounting).
It has been a hard journey for Kayla – one that has required her to make some difficult decisions and also overcome some hurdles, including dealing with mental health issues.
After years as a stay-at-home mother Kayla decided it was time to do something for herself and study at EIT Tairāwhiti with the aim of benefitting those around her.
It is a move that has paid off for the 31-year-old as not only does she have a good job, but she is graduating with a Bachelor of Business Studies (Accounting) at the EIT Tairāwhiti graduation ceremony on Friday (28th October 2022) at the War Memorial Theatre in Gisborne.
It was not without its challenges as a result of a personal tragedy. Added to that, Kayla (Te Aupouri) says that her career turned out to be a little different from the degree she studied, as she is now a Human Resources Officer at Apata Group Limited in Gisborne. She also works two days a week as an orchard hand.
Originally from Te Kao, a small settlement north of Kaitaia, Kayla moved down to Gisborne in 2009. She has two children, Adam and Minnie.
“I say this proudly, my job was mum to them, but I think that’s why I ended up studying because I wanted something for me to benefit those around me. So that’s why I ended up at the EIT. I’m not discrediting the mums and dads in our lives who are stay at home parents, but as my children got older, I wanted to try something for me. That’s what started the journey.”
That journey was a degree at EIT.
“Technically I did the Diploma in Applied Business, and then it just sort of fell in my lap. Some of my friends were moving on and I went, ‘oh, there’s a degree in this.’ So I decided to see what I could do.”
Kayla says that originally she had wanted to do a degree in management, but she was persuaded to major in accounting.
She started the degree in 2016 and finished in April last year, but graduation was delayed because of COVID-19. She says that in 2018 she was forced to take a step back and “figure out what I wanted in life”.
It was at this stage that Kayla’s mental health took a knock, and she had depression with suicidal thoughts.
“I can share it now because I am through it. I ended up with depression.”
“Then the loss of my best friend through the same situation got me out of it. I got help, was diagnosed with ADHD and started getting my life back on track towards the end of 2019.”
“Even though I was still studying, it was the only constant in my life to keep me alive. It was then that I realised that my children were doing well with their dad, and I needed to get it together.”
The support of EIT staff and her fellow students also helped her get through the tough times.
Graduation will be a busy time for Kayla, with not much time to celebrate immediately afterwards as her son has a football tournament in Napier the next day.
The day will be a big moment for her whanau as there is a double celebration because her mother, Manu Karena, was so inspired by her daughter, that she started studying as well. She finished her Bachelor in Teaching from another tertiary institute in July.
Added to this is the special item of clothing Kayla will wear at the ceremony – a cloak that belonged to her Great Great-Grandfather, Reverend Mutu Kapa.
“When my Aunt Frances was little, her grandfather, my great great-grandfather, always said to do something with numbers. She became a banker.”
“Reverend Kapa passed long before me, and my aunt told my mum the story when she found out I was studying accounting. I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed about it because it is a very cool story. The Reverend was great with people; he was impeccable with numbers.”
Kayla would have no hesitation in recommending EIT to anyone and she hopes to return soon to do the Postgraduate Certificate in Business Analytics.
“I try to give it my best, even in my position now, and passing it forward so people understand that every opportunity matters, big or small.”
“I’ve been given the best opportunities from 2019 onwards and I’m very blessed to still be here to appreciate all the moments in my life with my friends and family,” says Kayla.
Louise MacKenzie CA, CPA, Senior lecturer, Accounting, in the School of Business at EIT Tairāwhiti, says: “Kayla has faced many struggles throughout her study, and it is because of her tenacity and strength, and her determination to become the best she can be, that she is graduating on Friday.”
“In class, her bubbling personality always shone through, no matter what. As one of her lecturers I consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to help her work towards achieving her goals and to have been part of her journey.”