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Scholarship opens up pathway to teaching for EIT student

December 16, 2022

Michaella Upston (Te Āti Awa) Is loving studying for the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) at the EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti Campus.

Michaella Upston (Te Āti Awa) was all set to take a gap year after leaving Gisborne Girls’ High School last year but receiving a Year-13 Scholarship to EIT convinced her to enrol in the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) at the Tairāwhiti Campus.

It is a decision she has not regretted and coming to the end of her first year, Michaella, 19, is convinced she wants to be a teacher.

Each year, EIT | Te Pūkenga offers Year 13 students the opportunity to get a scholarship to study at EIT. EIT receives a large number of applications and last year was no exception. The scholarship is open to students intending to study a degree but is also available to students who wish to study certificate or diploma programmes that are embedded in a degree.

The Year 13 Scholarship covers one year of tuition fees including any course related costs which have been approved to be included as part of the scholarship.

Currently the Government Fees Free policy covers the fees for their first year of study and this scholarship could cover the student’s second year of study. This could mean two years of their degree are fees free.

Michaella says she has people in her life who are teachers who inspired her to pursue a career in education.

“I really wanted to work with kids, but I wanted to play a more impactful role and I felt like teaching would be able to give me that. I was planning on having a gap year just to save up money, but the scholarship, obviously, made it a lot easier funds-wise to just start studying straight away and get into the game.”

Michaella says she has loved her first year despite COVID-19 making things tricky at the start of the year, meaning a shift to online learning for a while.

“I have really enjoyed the relationships that you make at EIT. Everyone in my programme was close and we’ve become good friends along the way. And we’ve got really good relationships with the lecturers who we feel safe to come to.”

“I did get COVID-19 earlier this year and the lockdowns did have an impact on me and my family. It just shuffles plans around.  Because we’re not from Gisborne we went a long time without seeing any of our extended family in Napier, so it was a bit tough.”

The highlight of the degree for Michaella has been the practicums.

The Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) at EIT | Te Pūkenga is practice-based – with candidate teachers across all three years working alongside experienced teachers in partnership with local primary and intermediate schools for two days a week as part of the degree.

For another two days per week, candidate teachers are on-campus at EIT | Te Pūkenga developing professional knowledge associated with subjects such as language and literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, art, technology, health and physical education.

“I really enjoyed my placement with my partnership school. It was  cool to experience what it is to be in the classroom rather than just through lectures. It really confirmed that I was making the right career decision,” say Michaella.

As for recommending the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) at EIT | Te Pūkenga, Michaella has no hesitation.

“I would probably say that it’s just good hands-on experience with a really good culture behind it. You don’t feel lost. Because I’ve talked to lots of people who went to university, and they said that it was really hard not  knowing anyone, having such big lectures and not feeling safe to ask questions. So I’d say it’s just a  good culture to put yourself in.”

Nikki O’Connor, a Teacher Educator in the EIT | Te Pūkenga Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) says: “It’s been wonderful watching Michaella, and her cohort develop their teaching practice over the year. They’ve worked hard, engaged in some great conversations about teaching and learning, and we’ve also had a lot of fun.”