Frozti Ann Agrasada, the Valedictorian for the Auckland Campus of EIT | Te Pūkenga, is looking forward to her graduation ceremony next week, before she heads off to begin her new life in Canberra, Australia.
Frozti, who is from the Philippines, credits much of her success to the support she received from EIT | Te Pūkenga, from the outset and has spent time recently preparing her Valedictorian speech for the graduation on Monday (8 May).
“EIT | Te Pūkenga, I think, really went out of their way to create new initiatives to make sure that they supported the students.”
Frozti, who enrolled in the 18-month Master of Applied Management at EIT | Te Pūkenga, in early 2020, completed her studies in August 2021. Due to COVID-19, EIT | Te Pūkenga was unable to hold the 2022 Auckland graduation ceremony so Frizti and many of her peers from the 2021 cohort are joining the 2022 graduates at this year’s ceremony.
Prior to pursuing her post-graduate studies in New Zealand, Frozti had built-up a successful career in human resources, in the Philippines.
“I took up psychology as an interest and built-up a career in human resources. So, before EIT | Te Pūkenga, back in the Philippines, I was spending my time designing benefits for a group of employees, and I was on several negotiating panels within the union. I really enjoyed that I was part of a good company who has been providing well for their employees.”
However, after seven years as the Human Resources Manager at II-VI (Two-Six) Incorporated now Coherent Philippines, she began to reflect on the opportunity to pursue a Masters degree abroad.
“After seven years of working with II-VI, I reckoned it was time for me to grow after giving up a big part of myself to the organization, and I looked into pursuing my Masters abroad and that’s when I started looking and found EIT | Te Pūkenga.”
It was soon confirmed that her decision to enrol in the Masters programme was the right one for her, when she realised that some of her friends had studied at EIT | Te Pūkenga.
“I actually looked online and was able to find Education New Zealand and from there I found EIT | Te Pūkenga. I made a list of all the schools that I could go to with applied management courses and shortlisted EIT | Te Pūkenga. My agent also confirmed that EIT | Te Pūkenga was a good school. When I had further conversations with Filipinos who were in New Zealand before, I then realized that some of my friends actually went to EIT | Te Pūkenga, and so that gave me further confirmation that this was the way to go.”
Drawing on her work-related experience, Frozti was able to secure part-time employment in New Zealand, before arriving in the country.
“So, before I moved to New Zealand, I was able to share my intention to come to New Zealand with some friends. A friend of mine in the Philippines connected me with an employer in New Zealand. It was an answered prayer. I met Matt Jones, the owner of Canstaff and he said he would be happy to hire me as a part-time employee, when I pursue my studies in New Zealand. That was really, really lucky because I would not have had a job during lockdown. So, it was really a blessing to have that.”
For Frozti, her first day at EIT | Te Pūkenga turned out to be very different to what she could have imagined. The New Zealand Government’s COVID-19 announcement in March 2020, catapulted Frozti and students around the country into lockdown.
“At the time that I came to New Zealand for the program, I imagined it’ll be a classroom setting, I’ll have international classmates and we will have discussions in the classroom. But then the first day in school we were actually advised to go back home because New Zealand would be in lockdown. That was March of 2020.”
According to Frozti, she found the first months of her stay in New Zealand “facing three laptops and juggling both work and studies”.
Frozti acknowledges the support she received from the Filipino family she was living with during lockdown.
Frozti has high praise for her EIT | Te Pūkenga staff and lecturers, who she credits with creating virtual online connections which supported her through the rigors of lockdown.
For Frozti, the classroom interactions have highlighted her lecturers’ deep interest in their students and their capacity to demonstrate interactive learning.
“The interaction in the classroom is what I appreciate. The professors really are just not dumping knowledge onto you. They are keen to listen to your experience, and then, from the discussions, comes the concepts of leadership and what is that in the context in the New Zealand businesses. So, it was really interactive and not boring.”
After her time with Canstaff, she worked with the People & Capability team of Perpetual Guardian, a 135-year-old estate planning company.
After graduation, Frozti and her partner, Bernie plan to relocate to his home in Canberra, Australia for the foreseeable future.
Cherie Freeman, EIT | Te Pūkenga Auckland Campus Director, said: ” It was a pleasure to have Frozti as an EIT | Te Pūkenga student especially during a very challenging time. While we were in lockdown Frozti’ s bubbly personality and positive outlook helped lift all our spirits.”
“She was certainly well liked by her fellow classmates and lecturers. We wish her all the best in her future endeavours, safe in the knowledge that she will always be an EIT | Te Pūkenga graduate.”