Armed with an employment certificate and NCEA level one and two, 22-year-old Tereina Lichtwark is one step closer to her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Miss Lichtwark graduated from YMCA Education yesterday, in a ceremony held at the New Plymouth council chambers.
The mother of one completed a year-long Student Achievement Component (SAC) course, where she learnt literacy, numeracy, CV writing, interview preparation and general life skills.
"I'm super proud of myself. It's the first thing I've completed in my life, and it's motivated me to go back to study fulltime, to pursue my dream of becoming a lawyer," she said.
The Bell Block woman left high school without qualifications, and said she spent her time drinking, smoking and hanging with the wrong crowds.
Miss Lichtwark said her son motivated her, and going back to school would help her to provide the best for him.
Next year, Miss Lichtwark plans to go to Western Institute of Technology, Taranaki, to complete the business administration course, before taking Introduction to Law via correspondence, and legal executive papers.
"I'm quite a bright person, and I didn't want it to go to waste," she said. "I don't want to be seen on a benefit all my life. I'm taking the steps I need to do what I want."
The graduate juggled study and childcare with part-time bar work and a new job as personal assistant to YMCA chief executive officer Linda Cox - a job she works at four days a week.
Miss Lichtwark said she got the job after "lots of nagging," and has already gained invaluable experie
SAC supervisor Jo Manu handed Miss Lichtwark the Student of the Year award at the ceremony and said she had what it takes to go far. "She had a goal, had focus. Her dream of being a lawyer is fully achievable for her."
The YMCA offers education courses and provides youth with skills to get into the workforce.
Graduation also included classes in youth work, Foundation Focused Training Opportunities, and Youth Guarantee courses for 16 to 18-year-olds.
- Taranaki Daily News
Is this the best summer ever?Related story: Wellington sizzles in January heat