HomeStaff and Student ProfilesAaliyah Sutherland-Lee-Lo

Aaliyah Sutherland-Lee-Lo

Early Childhood Education Graduate

Aaliyah Sutherland-Lee-Lo

Aaliyah Sutherland-Lee-Lo always knew she wanted to help people, but wasn’t too sure what that looked like. “I thought I wanted to become a social worker, but once I began studying Early Childhood Education (ECE), I realised I’d found my calling.”

Growing up, Aaliyah had three older siblings, two of whom were both young parents, and two much younger siblings whom she helped with a lot. “I was definitely surrounded by babies all the time, so being in that caregiver role comes very naturally, and these experiences had an impact on the path I’ve chosen.”

 Originally from the Kāpiti Coast, Aaliyah knew she didn’t want to study at a university. “I chose UCOL Te Pūkenga for a couple of reasons – one was that I’d already spent lots of time in Paraparaumu, but not so much towards Levin, so that excited me a bit. The other thing that made me gravitate towards UCOL, was that I knew of others who had studied here and had awesome experiences.”

 There are so many highlights from studying, but I really appreciated the smaller class sizes. They weren’t huge like at high school, which meant one on one time was easier to get, which I found really valuable. “My lecturer was amazing, especially after I’d not studied for a couple of years. She was so supportive, along with Yvonne and Kevin (Horowhenua campus kaimahi), who I’m so thankful for, as they were able to help me with some financial difficulties I was having that could have seen me drop out for a bit. With their help though, I didn’t have to, and was able to keep going and complete my level 3 and 4 certificates for ECE – and now I’m onto the degree, which at the time I wasn’t sure would be possible.”

 Aaliyah completed two different placements, as part of her completion requirements for levels 3 and 4. “I completed my first placement in Paraparaumu at Centre Kids. I loved my time here and was stoked to be able to gain employment here as a reliever, which only recently ended as the centre, unfortunately, had to close. For my second placement, I chose Ōtaki Early Learning, where I spent time in the baby room. I really enjoyed my time here too, but this opportunity confirmed for me that I have a preference for toddlers and helping them to understand and learn appropriate responses to their emotions.”

 “As I continue to study, I'm finding techniques that I’m able to share with my mum to help with my younger siblings. My youngest sister is neurodiverse, which, understandably, means our whole family has had to adjust and adapt. This can be small things, from helping my younger brother understand how a messy room impacts her, to different ways to communicate with her that also work for the rest of our whānau. I get a lot of joy and satisfaction to be able to share my knowledge to help my own family as well as all these other tamariki.”

 This year, Aaliyah has gone on to study towards her Bachelor of Early Childhood Learning, while working part-time with Ōtaki Early Learning Centre.

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