Classes are in full swing at UCOL Te Pūkenga Horowhenua, and there’s more learners coming through the door than ever before.
“Megan is a wonderful lecturer who brings a lot of knowledge to our class. I appreciate having a teacher with so much experience in a wide range of fields. It feels like we are learning from a true professional.”
Out back where the powertools are going hard, lecturer Lee Thompson’s NZ Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Carpentry) course is also looking pretty packed, with 15 students on site. “Our youngest is 16 and the oldest is 66, with a mix of every age in between,” say Thompson. “There’s also a range of cultures in there, which is really great to see. This is the biggest class we’ve ever had since the programme started in 2018.”
Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Carpentry) student Blake Nicholas.
Meanwhile the Early Childhood Education and Care programme is expanding in its own way, with the NZ Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care Level 5 being taught in Horowhenua for the first time. 12 students have joined the first Levin cohort, many of whom have progressed from UCOL Te Pūkenga’s Level 3 and 4 programmes, which continue to be delivered on campus.
One of those students is Jennifer Gerbes, who was thrilled that it could be offered locally. “When I was pregnant with my second child, Lylah, I decided to join UCOL Te Pūkenga’s Horowhenua Early Childhood Education and Care programme. It was so handy to be able to do it all in Levin, especially as it’s during school hours.
“When they announced that the Level 5 would be coming here we were all so excited! Eight of us had been trying to figure out carpooling and moving job schedules around, so this just makes it so much easier. Plus I love the campus – it’s such a nice environment, we all get to know each other, and there’s loads of student support.”
Beauty Therapy students at work.
The only small downside for Jennifer is that she’s having to leave her favourite lecturer behind – Melissa Lepper has her schedule full with the next cohort of Level 3 students. “Melissa is amazing, she’s my inspiration. I want to be just like her when I’m a teacher. But it’s okay, now I have Billie, who’s so energetic and full of life.”
“I love being in the Horowhenua,” says Billie Comiskey. “There’s strong sense of kotahitanga (unity) and whanaungatanga (kinship) between nga kaiako and nga tauira (teachers and learners). We’re proud to have found a way to cater to the needs of our growing number of Diploma students.”