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With nursing in the family, studying at EIT | Te Pūkenga was right move for graduate

September 22, 2023

Aaliyah Aston, pictured with her grandparents Gordon (left) and Mihi (right), recently graduated from EIT | Te Pūkenga and is now working as a new graduate nurse in the Emergency Department at Gisborne Hospital.

When Aaliyah Aston returned home to Tairāwhiti from Australia, she decided to follow a family career path of nursing and it is a move that has paid off with her graduating from EIT | Te Pūkenga recently.

Aaliyah completed the Bachelor of Nursing  at EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti last year and graduated earlier this month. She is now working as a new graduate nurse in the Emergency Department at Gisborne Hospital.

Born and raised in Gisborne, Aaliyah, 24, went to high school in Australia.

“I moved back from Australia mid-2019 and moved in with my grandparents. It was just at the time needing to do something to get back on my feet so I started with the foundation paper [NZ Certificate in Study and Career Preparation (Level 4)] and then just followed the pathway that way through to nursing.”

She says she had always had an interest in nursing given that there are “a lot of nurses in the family”, but that deciding to make it a career just evolved.

While her study coincided with the beginning of COVID-19 and lockdowns, she has enjoyed the journey with many good memories made, including having her own grandmother as one of her tutors at EIT | Te Pūkenga.

“My personal experience was good, but understanding that everyone was experiencing COVID for the first time and trying to navigate what that meant, but I found it really good. The tutors were always a phone call away if we needed them. Not to say it wasn’t hard and that probably everyone didn’t have that same experience, but looking back at it now, I felt really supported through the whole thing.”

She says it was quite an experience having her grandmother, Mihi Aston, as a tutor in her first year anatomy and physiology paper.

“It was quite funny; it was a bit harder because I didn’t want to feel like I was overstepping boundaries.”

Aaliyah says she has been supported by her family, “especially my grandparents”.

“I don’t think I would have been able to get through without them.”

Her proud family was there to support her as she graduated, as one of 68 ākonga (students) from EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti Campus.

After delays to the ceremony, first due to COVID-19 early last year, and again because of Cyclone Gabrielle, the Tairāwhiti Graduation Ceremony was held on Friday August 4 at the War Memorial Theatre.

As for the future, Aaliyah is happy to see how it all unfolds.

“ I think for the time being, I definitely want to just focus on growing my skills as a new nurse, most likely in ED, but I think that’s the beauty of this degree is that I can probably go anywhere and work with it if I wanted to.”

Adrianna Grogan, Principal Academic Staff Member and Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing, says: “Right from the start you could see that Aaliyah was committed to the Bachelor of Nursing. She showed a passion for learning and was supportive of the others in her class.”

“With COVID hitting and the lock downs which followed Aaliyah adapted to a new way of study (working from home) and continued to embrace the Bachelor of Nursing.”

“In her clinical placements Aaliyah always received positive feedback from her preceptors and was an advocate for her patients.  Aaliyah completed her transition placement within the ED department and it was clear the commitment she had to the people of Te Tairāwhiti and her future nursing career.”