St John part of tradition for top cadet Kristen

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 12:00 11/04/2014
cadet
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
TOP HONOURS: Kristen Vanderschantz.

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A career in nursing was always on the cards for national St John Cadet of the Year Kristen Vanderschantz who found her feet in the medical field at an early age.

Now in her first year at Massey University, the former Tauranga resident credits her family history in the St John volunteer services as influencing her career choice.

Vanderschantz, 18, was invested as both national and regional St John Cadet of the Year by the governor-general last year.

"Ever since I first joined, which was when I was 11, I always looked up to the regional Cadet of the Year who was a role model and I wanted to be that for other cadets," she said. "It's my way of giving back to an organisation which has given so much to me."

Vanderschantz said both her mother and grandmother were part of St John and that family history was what led her to join the programme.

"My mother had left before I joined but she did it when she was my age, and was still there when I was born," she said. "So when I was a baby I was pushed around in a pram while she did things."

Vanderschantz said she always wanted to do something in the medical field.

"I wanted to be a doctor, growing up, but have leaned more towards the nursing hands-on side of things," she said.

"St John has definitely helped me along the way and influenced me to realise that it was what I wanted to do.

"Now I'm nursing and I just started my placement for my first year."

Vanderschantz is still officially in a youth role for the Cadet of the Year, although she turned 18 after receiving the award.

"It has been a bit of a transition year where I still hold the cadet role but I'm considered an adult leader," she said.

"Becoming an adult means instead of completing badges, I now have my Grand Prior, the highest cadet award, and I teach the cadets and I can't compete any more.

"But I can join the Friends of the Emergency Department, be a caring caller and go out with the ambulance - so while a few doors have closed a whole lot have opened."

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