Meet Maddison

We met with Maddison to hear her story as an on-campus student studying the Bachelor of Screen Arts.

Kia ora Maddison! You took yourself on a gap year after high school, can you let us in on the thought process behind that decision?

Yeah, the pressure was on after high school to find my next path. But here's the thing – academic subjects weren't exactly my forte. Back in 2018, I found myself struggling and questioning why I should even consider university. I didn't have a clue what I wanted to pursue. It took me some time to mull it over, and I eventually opted for a gap year. While my friends went off to university, I couldn't shake the feeling of missing out. But I had to be real with myself – diving into university without a clear direction wasn't the move for me.  It took a while, but I finally found my path.

COVID-19 brought you and your family back to New Zealand from London. You weren’t 100% sure what you wanted to pursue – what was it that made you land on a Bachelor of Screen Arts at Massey? 

When we had to come back, I found myself at a crossroads. Retail and hospitality weren't cutting it for me anymore; I needed something more. I spent some time soul-searching, reflecting on what truly sparked my passion. Initially, I flirted with the idea of becoming a special effects makeup artist for film, then dabbled in radio, media and drama. It became clear that my calling was within the creative industry, particularly film.

But choosing a university was daunting, until a friend studying at Massey pointed out its practical approach to courses, emphasising hands-on experience over endless essays. It sounded like just what I needed. That first year at Massey confirmed without a doubt that I was on the right path, and now in my second year I'm more certain than ever that this is where I belong.

As someone who didn’t start straight after high school, how did you find your transition into uni? Were there any reservations you had that you had to overcome? 

Starting university was nerve-wracking for me for a few reasons. Firstly, I was older than most of my peers, kicking off my journey at 22, which might not seem old, but in a sea of 18 and 19-year-olds, the maturity gap felt significant. I worried about fitting in, making friends and building connections, especially since I hadn't made many friends in high school. The thought of navigating new social dynamics and potentially facing judgment for being older weighed heavily on me. But, on the first day I met someone my age, and suddenly things felt a lot more manageable. It was a relief to find someone in a similar boat, and it helped ease my anxiety about the whole experience.

And what would you say to someone who may also have anxiety around starting university, in general, or as a “mature” student? 

If I could speak to my 22-year-old self before starting university, I'd say, "You've got this – even though you might be struggling in high school or intermediate, wherever you are – just keep going." Setting little goals for myself was key. After the first semester, I managed to attend every lecture and workshop, which felt like a significant achievement. It’s not just about academic progress; it's also about personal growth.

Over the past five years, I've been actively working on my mental health, finding ways to cope and stay calm. Despite my initial anxiety, I pushed through with the support of teachers and fellow students. It's something I'm passionate about – despite my struggles with anxiety, friendships and expectations, I persevered. Today, I feel very happy and confident with where I am.