Return to university a design for success


Tessa Hansen-Cane at the Wellington graduation ceremonies.

Design graduate Tessa Hansen-Cane at the Wellington special graduation celebration.


Massey University design graduate Tessa Hansen-Cane credits returning to university with giving her a window into a new life.

The experience designer and mother of two studied photography at Massey after high school and worked in a photography studio. After having her children, she returned to work as a graphic designer but decided she needed to focus her career and decided to upskill.

She chose to study the four-year Bachelor of Design with Honours degree, majoring in Visual Communication Design at Ngā Pae Māhutonga Wellington School of Design and says she’s glad she decided to return to university as an adult learner.

“I loved studying design at Massey. The lecturers are amazing - I really felt like I had world-class support from people who genuinely cared about my development and my well-being. The course I studied gave me a window into so many different design disciplines and led me to a new career that I otherwise couldn’t have dreamed of.”

Ms Hansen-Cane is now working as an experience designer at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Every day I get to work with inspiring people who are trying to solve some of Aotearoa’s biggest problems in areas like healthcare, justice, education and social welfare.”

Let Your Heart Lead by Tessa Hansen-Cane.

Let Your Heart Lead by Tessa Hansen-Cane.


She recently won a Red Dot international design award for her Let Your Heart Lead publication, a collection of stories from women about how they memorialised the loss of their babies after miscarriage. “These stories are from women around the world who found solace through the act of commemoration; be it a small, simple act or a carefully rehearsed ceremony. The design responds to the non-linear nature of grief, and carefully balances the sombre source material with hope imbued illustrations,” she says.

She wants to encourage anyone thinking of returning to university or taking it up as an adult, to give it go. “I was really nervous about being a mature student but I told myself to just sign up and stick with it for a month. And after a month I was hooked!”

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