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Katie Wallace

Social Services Graduate

Bachelor of Social Services graduate Katie Wallace

Katie Wallace has always wanted to make a positive impact on society. The Bachelor of Social Services has equipped her with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to do just that.

Katie had previously worked in storeroom roles, but health conditions meant she was unable to keep doing physical work. Seeing this as an opportunity to try something new, Katie enquired about the Bachelor of Social Services that was launching at UCOL Te Pūkenga in 2020.  After chatting with staff, Katie enrolled in the degree, excited by the range of career opportunities the degree could lead to.

The Bachelor of Social Services prepares learners to work in a range of social service fields such as mental health, addiction, and disability support.

"As a single mother, I never had the time to pursue a career until now. I was able to assess what I wanted in life and what I was good at. I chose to study social services as this was an opportunity to continue to help people and make a difference in society," says Katie.     

"I initially wasn't confident in my ability to study independently, but I liked the support that UCOL provided. I was able to rent a Chromebook from the library when my computer broke. Learning advisors gave me advice on composing essays and referencing. The librarians helped me order books. I also used UCOL's counselling service to help balance my mental wellbeing."

Katie's favourite part of the degree was finding her passion for facilitating groups.

"Having anxiety and not being good at public speaking, I was surprised to discover that I love facilitation. My lecturer helped me discover and develop techniques to achieve support and growth as a collective. I now have minimal anxiety when speaking in front of groups and love the entire process of bringing people together and educating them."

As part of the degree, Katie completed placements with Kaianga Ora and disability support agencies. It was a great way for her to put theory into practice, experience how different organisations operate, and build relationships with people in the industry. She still keeps in touch with those agencies.  

In the final year of her degree, Katie started working part-time at MASH Trust, which provides a range of mental health, disability, and addiction support services. There, Katie helped develop the afternoon sessions for MASH's Monarch Recovery programme — an educational and life skills programme that addresses addiction, mental health, and social issues. Katie based the programme around Te Whare Tapa Whā , the four sides of Māori health - taha tinana (physical health), taha wairua (spiritual health), taha whānau (family health), and taha hinengaro (mental health).

"The best part of the job was being able to contribute to the Monarch programme to see firsthand the positive impact that Te Whare Tapa Whā can create on people. We could see people growing in confidence, contributing to the community, supporting others, achieving their goals, and reconnecting and developing relationships."

Set to graduate as part of the first graduating class for the Bachelor of Social Services in March 2023, Katie has many goals she wants to achieve in the social services space. This includes establishing her own facilitation programme, supporting overseas projects, and writing a series of e-books to help people with mental illnesses. 

"Life is short, and I wish to support positive health or change for as many people as possible while I'm here."

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