From Rio to New Plymouth - Witt overseas student is living the dream
Graduate Mariana Horigome says she is "living the plan" in New Plymouth.
Originally from Rio de Janeiro, the 29-year-old graduated from the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (Witt) with a Graduate Diploma in Project Management on Friday.
She said she chose the institutefor the lifestyle as well as the qualification.
"I love it here; it's amazing. It's a good environment to live in."
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She is one of 299 students who graduated with a degree or diploma. The number of graduates is up from 286 in 2016 and 249 in 2015.
There were 177 students graduating with a diploma, 73 with a degree and 50 with a graduate diploma, and 118 of those were international students.
Horigome already had a bachelor in oceanography and a masters in environmental science, and said she wanted some more management skills to go with her technical background.
"I think it was a good combination of skills for my career."
She is now a project oceanographer and marketing coordinator at MetOcean Solutions. She had previously worked for the company in Brazil but she started in the new position during her course.
She said the job included project management that she's learned and her technical background.
It was "a bit different to what I was used to" but a nice environment, she said.
"I love it; it's great work."
She said she doesn't miss the "busyness" of Rio.
"It's too busy; it's too crowded. It's also part of our choice to come to New Zealand, to a smaller city, to get out of too much traffic."
Her plans for the future involve growing in her job, but she's not ruling out a return to study, possibly to do a PhD.
She thinks she and her husband, Felipe Gomes, are in New Zealand to stay.
"I think I'm in the right place that I want to be.
"We're happy here; we're building a life. If I keep studying I'd look for something in New Zealand.
"We're living the plan so far."
Witt Chief Executive Barbara George said the increased number of graduates was due to students staying at school longer to gain a Level 3 qualification so they can enrol directly into a diploma or degree programme.
"We are also finding more students are continuing with study to gain higher level qualifications to meet the needs of employers, and to allow them to pursue careers in their chosen field of study."
George said the graduate diplomas have attracted international students to the region.
"The graduate diplomas have given people who live in the Taranaki region the opportunity to enrol and complete these high level qualifications without having to relocate."
Each graduate had a story to tell and will take away lasting memories of their journey to gain their qualification, she said.
"Some students graduating today started at WITT by completing a Level 2 Certificate programme and then they have persevered and continued with their study to get to where they are today.
"For many they have overcome hurdles and broken down barriers that they never expected they could overcome."