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Rihari Peeti

Graduate of Bachelor of Applied Science (Wellness and Sport)

From UKIDS early learning to UCOL graduate, Rihari Peeti's journey has led him full circle. With a Bachelor of Applied Science (Wellness and Sport) in hand, Rihari now helps others understand how to move their bodies for wellbeing.

Graduation earlier this year was a significant moment for Rihari. Although he says he may have forgotten to take a photo, thankfully his Dad didn’t miss the opportunity.
“It [graduation] was a bit of a full circle moment for me. Funnily enough, as a kid I attended UKIDS, an early learning service run by UCOL for children of kaimahi and students. As far as I know, I’m one of the only kids from UKIDS who went on to then graduate from UCOL.”
Originally from Palmerston North, Rihari moved around a lot during his childhood. He moved from Palmy to Napier then Masterton as his dad was a lecturer and got a job with UCOL Wairarapa. During his teen years, Rihari was a boarder at Te Aute College in Hawke’s Bay, while his whānau relocated to Palmerston North.
Rihari’s start to study at UCOL was a bit rocky before becoming a roaring success. After being a top business student in high school, Rihari originally enrolled in the New Zealand Diploma in Business, before quickly realising it wasn’t for him.
“After talking to Dad about what I should do, I switched into the Bachelor of Applied Science. I had always had a passion for sport and exercise and wanted to go make a career doing that instead."
“The timing of this was a month before the first COVID-19 lockdowns which hit me pretty hard. I felt overwhelmed and didn’t enjoy distance learning. I made the decision to withdraw from the course and then re-enrolled later that year in the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise.”
Determined to meet his goal of completing the Bachelor of Applied Science, Rihari enrolled as soon as he completed the Certificate, choosing to major in Strength and Conditioning.
Rihari found his experience at UCOL to be supportive and personalised. 
“Throughout my time at UCOL, I really appreciated the one-on-one time with lecturers, and the flexibility for various learning styles. The way the lecturers would break down complex concepts to help me was awesome, as there isn’t just one way of doing things. I’m grateful the lecturers were flexible in adapting to not just my needs, but my peers’ too.”
Rihari spent some of his most valuable time in Te Hiringa i te Mahara, affectionately known as the whānau room, where he felt supported and cared for. He attended many of the on-campus events aimed at Māori and Pasifika, and enjoyed the support of having other tangata Māori around him.
Thanks to the level of practical experience gained during his studies, Rihari felt that the transition from UCOL to working in the industry was really smooth.  
"Transitioning from UCOL to the workforce felt natural because of the practical experience we gained during placements. During our last year of study, we had to complete over 300 hours of work placement, so I already felt like I was working properly in the workforce. It didn't feel like a big jump after I finished my studies - I think the work placements really set me up to make this transition easier."
"I currently work part time as a trainer at Zenith Fitness in town. It's great to work with people, giving them the skills and knowledge to understand how their bodies work and setting them up for more success in their fitness journey."
"During my studies, I was lucky to be able to work alongside Palmerston North Boys’ High School and the First XV rugby team to help them become better athletes."
"What's most fulfilling about my mahi is being able to pass on my knowledge to others and see them succeed in their training."
"My advice to current UCOL students pursuing a career in wellness and exercise is to never stop learning and keep an open mind. New research is coming out all the time, and things change so quickly in this industry, so always keep learning and bettering yourself for your clients."
"I'd definitely recommend UCOL, it just offers a more personable approach.”
This Bachelor of Applied Science has majors in Physical Health and Wellness, Strength and Conditioning, and Sport and Recreation Management. Find out more here.

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