Class of 2020 celebrate academic achievement at Graduation

Five ceremonies are being held over two days in Manawatū.

More than 1000 graduates, their whānau and friends are celebrating the end of their academic journey at the Massey University Graduation Whakapōtaetanga for 2020.

Five ceremonies are being held at The Regent on Broadway in Palmerston North across Thursday 19 and Friday 20 November, along with special celebration ceremonies for Māori and Pasifika students that are also being held this week. It is the first traditional graduation for 2020 after COVID-19 caused the cancellation of graduation in April and May this year, however, special celebration events were held across the country for students who graduated in absentia during lockdown.

More than 1000 people are graduating, including 44 with doctorates, 27 of which are university staff and more than 120 graduates are receiving master’s degrees. The highest academic accolade, an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Education, Honoris Causa) was awarded to Rangitāne leader and kaumatua Manahi Paewai in recognition of his dedication and contribution to Māori education.

Massey University Chancellor Michael Ahie says the university is immensely proud of the entrepreneurial spirit our graduates possess.

“This year has been a year like no other. The impact of COVID-19 on the university and to each of our daily lives has been immense.

“Our graduate’s perseverance, flexibility and resilience show they are well prepared for life after study and have the skills to face with confidence the road ahead.”

Graduate Rebekah Robb is working as a practice nurse in Wellington.

On the COVID-19 front line

Rebekah Robb is now working as a practice nurse in Wellington and has just graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing. She says studying at Massey and her nursing placements prepared her well for working on the front line.

“I did my final placement in an amazing practice, Kauri Health Care, that set me up completely ready to go when I started in January.”

She could never have imagined a global pandemic would unfold during her first year in the workforce.

“It’s been pretty full-on. I’m a practice nurse so we COVID swab every day and we spend the day on the phone with people. Initially, when it was all new, it was quite scary because people were asking us questions and we didn’t have answers. But we’ve been well equipped to handle it [COVID-19] and I feel like we’re in a good place to handle whatever COVID throws at us.

“All nurses are working really hard right now fighting this unknown and scary virus.”

Graduate Miriama Summer Wynard is now working Apple and Pears New Zealand.

Growing opportunities for young people in horticulture

Miriama Summer Wynyard, 22, graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science majoring in Horticulture and attended the special ceremony to honour the university’s Māori graduates on Thursday morning. It was the first graduation celebration she and many of her whānau had ever experienced.

“It was awesome for us to get an insight into what graduation is actually like. At this Māori graduation, it’s awesome to support whānau, each other and acknowledge Māori success. You talk about ‘it takes a tribe to raise a child’ and you can see that at the graduation here.”

Miriama lived and studied in Palmerston North for most of her degree but spent the last six months studying online in Hawke’s Bay after she was offered a job as a student liaison for Apples and Pears New Zealand. Her role is to work with schools, students and youth to build and bridge opportunities into the horticulture industry.

“What I’d learnt at university and the connections I made really set me up so that when I went into this job I was well supported by the people I was around, but I also had the knowledge and courage I needed to do in my mahi.”

Hassan Abrar (L) Dr M Abrar, Nayab Abrar, Tahira Abrar, Ahsan Abrar.

Studying education to help future generations

Tahira Abrar came to New Zealand 11 years ago from Pakistan and now is a proud graduate of a Bachelor of Education.

She says when her children began kindergarten in New Zealand she became fascinated with early childhood teaching.

“When I saw my children having positive experiences that I never got to have in my childhood, it gave me good motivation to do an early childhood qualification.”

Abrar is now studying a Graduate Diploma of Learning and Teaching to become a registered teacher. She says she has thoroughly enjoyed studying at Massey and says the feeling of graduating is surreal.

“When I first got to New Zealand about 11 years ago, I never thought that I would be a graduate from Massey. I can speak English, but I was not as fluent as I am now, so it’s a big day for me.”

Abrar’s husband is also a graduate of Massey University having completed a doctorate in engineering in 2014.

Graduate Feng Hawick Qian says online learning with Massey was a great experience over the past two years.

Changing careers possible with online learning

Feng Hawick Qian has proudly graduated with a Bachelor of Defence studies, which he described as one of the most cherished and memorable moments of his life.

“The world is always changing; only learning can help us find the right direction.”

The 42-year-old worked as a graphic designer for the last 20 years but has his heart set on joining the New Zealand Defence Force. He has already applied and passed all the exams for the Army, however, he was unable to be accepted because he is not a New Zealand citizen.

On the advice of a good friend who is a commanding officer at Linton Camp, he decided to further his knowledge around defence and decided to study online with Massey.

He says his studies were challenging but Massey’s distance education system, practical courses and staff were supportive and helpful.

“I received many phone calls to inquire about my study progress and communication over email and stream was always smooth. Even with distance learning, I always felt that I was in a learning atmosphere. Thanks to Massey University for giving me a good learning experience in the past two years.”

Hawick currently works as a rental property manager and is also a crew member of the operational support unit at the Palmerston North Fire Station where he is also offered ongoing training. He says when he gains citizenship, he will apply again for the New Zealand Army.

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