And the winners are…

Congratulations to our Palmerston North 2015 UCOL Scholarship and Award winners:

Andrew Cliff Award – Ashleigh Thompson, Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Imaging Technology)

Fletcher Challenge Trust Award – Reguina Blair, Bachelor of Nursing

Palmerston North City Council Jaycee Trust Scholarship – Jane Barnett, Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science

Palmerston North City Council Jaycee Trust Scholarship – Sasha Anastasi, Bachelor of Information and Communications Technology

Graduate Women UCOL Award – Rebecca Nilsson, Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Imaging Technology)

Graduate Women UCOL Award – Reguina Blair, Bachelor of Nursing

Graduate Women UCOL Award – Moana Tipene, Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Imaging Technology)

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Science UCOL

Graduate Profile: Ankita Sigdel – Science

Pursuing undergraduate study was on Ankita Sigdel’s mind since finishing high school in her home country of Nepal, at age 18.

After spending some time at home in Kathmandu with family and taking a study break teaching IELTS in an education consultancy, Ankita decided to move to New Zealand to study.

She had heard about UCOL’s programmes providing hands on skills to students, and had always wanted to learn science by doing it, so enrolled in the two year, full time National Diploma in Science (level 6) and moved to Palmerston North.

Ankita Sigdel - UCOL National Diploma in Science Graduate

Ankita Sigdel – UCOL National Diploma in Science Graduate

While at UCOL, Ankita learnt the laboratory techniques, theories and process to become a skilled laboratory technician. She says the industry placement she completed at AgResearch Ltd’s Grasslands Campus in Palmerston North in her second year of the programme was the best thing that happened to her, personally as well as professionally. “It not only helped me to learn so many techniques and led to a summer internship but I also made really good friends there who are now like family here in New Zealand.”

The door to the science and technology field was truly opened for Ankita when, after completion of her UCOL placement and qualification, she was selected to work as a summer student at AgResearch, New Zealand’s largest Crown Research Institute. Through this position she was able to gain even more experience and tick another box on her CV.

Now 23, Ankita is employed as a Lab Technician at Biotelliga Ltd based in Pukekohe, a region of intense horticultural activity in New Zealand. Her role includes strain management, lab management and working as a production technician.

Having been with the company since September 2014, Anikta is really enjoying using her skills learnt at UCOL to make a contribution to society.

“Our company develops and produces biological alternatives for pesticides. To know you play a role in trying to reduce the toxicity in the food chain, even if it’s a small role, is the best part of the job.”

Graduate Profile: Niko Pei – Contemporary Music Performance

Since Niko Pei was a teenager, he’s been meeting up with friends every weekend to work on music.

Born and raised in Palmerston North, hip hop and RnB has long been his hobby on the side.

At the age of 17 Niko ran into some trouble – but the experience inspired him to ‘do music’ even more. “I had a bit to go through emotionally, and I could have gone another way but I found that music was a good release.”

Niko Pei - UCOL Contemporary Music graduate

Niko Pei – UCOL Contemporary Music graduate

After several years of work experience in a plastic factory, Niko decided it was time to do something different. “I got to a point where I just wasn’t happy with what I was doing for work. I was sitting down for coffee with my neighbour and he asked me what my dream job was. I said that I’d like to own a record label and he suggested I study Music at UCOL.”

Having only performed in front of friends, Niko says the audition process for the Contemporary Music Performance programme was a bit nerve-racking but he received good feedback. “I got accepted into the course and it’s actually been good performing and being around others, making new friends.”

While at UCOL it was compulsory for Niko to try out other music genres. “It was challenging but it opened up my eyes, I now appreciate all types of music and I learnt about the different backgrounds and history of genres.”

He was surprised to get good feedback for the country genre aspect of the programme. “I usually just stuck to rapping but the programme helped me to sing and be confident with singing.”

Now 30, Niko has graduated with both a Certificate and a Diploma in Contemporary Music Performance from UCOL. This year he is enrolled in UCOL’s Certificate in Business Studies, with an aim to learn more about accounting and law to work towards his dream of eventually owning a record label.

Also on the cards for Niko this year is youth work. “I’d like to work with young people and help with crime prevention through music.”

Graduate Profile: Jess Trotter- Business

Jess Trotter- Certificate Business Studies Graduate

Jess Trotter- Certificate Business Studies Graduate

In the final months of Jess Trotter’s Certificate in Business Studies, mid-2014, she already had her foot in the door of her dream industry.

Working part-time at a supermarket and determined to complete her qualification, Jess was offered a casual job with Westpac.

With her new work commitments requiring flexible hours alongside rostered supermarket shifts, Jess knew that she would have to find a different way to study.

“My lecturers were so supportive of my opportunity at Westpac. As dual professionals who had worked in business environments they understood my work commitments and supported me when my work hours clashed with class times.”

“I learnt to get as much work done when and where I could. I would study at work when it was quiet on the checkout and at home, and email notes to myself on my phone when I had ideas for assignments.”

Jess chose to study the Certificate in Business Studies (level 4) to gain transferable skills that she could use in a variety of career paths and have a platform for further study.

“It was the first step for me; I knew I wanted to work in business and had dreamed of one day working in banking. The Certificate gave me the confidence and the skills to take the next step and enter the industry.”

Jess is now a Customer Banking Consultant in Development at Westpac Bank, having recently landed a full time position.

“The skills that I have learnt at UCOL have become second nature, and I feel that when customers or colleagues ask me a question I really know what I am talking about.”






Nurses graduation

Graduate profile: Chrissy Renata – Nursing

Chrissy Renata has worked extremely hard to complete her Bachelor of Nursing at Whanganui UCOL. Fuelled by a desire to bring skills home to her community, Chrissy went above and beyond to upskill from an experienced Enrolled Nurse to a Registered Nurse.

Chrissy Renata - Nursing Graduate

Chrissy Renata – Nursing Graduate

Living with her husband on a farm out the back of Raetihi, 113 km from the Whanganui UCOL campus, Chrissy was determined to do whatever was necessary to succeed academically. She rented a flat in Whanganui for three years so that she could study and work in the evenings.

She also approached the Whanganui DHB to seek employment to fund her living costs and was given a position of healthcare assistant, mainly working night shifts. “Without the DHB providing me with that opportunity I would not have been able to complete my degree; they told me they were investing in the future and I am extremely grateful for their support.”

Chrissy says going back to study as a mature student posed its challenges, in particular learning how to use technology and write academically. “My class had a variety of people, young and old and we were able to take advantage of that, to teach and support each other. My peers taught me a lot; the younger ones taught me how to open my mind and change with the times. This was invaluable for my qualification.”

Chrissy identified that alongside her teachers, the support of the UCOL Library and Student Experience staff was essential to her success. “The staff were awesome. They understood the challenges I was facing and showed me different ways of learning. They treat each student as an individual and my degree belongs to them as well.”

Chrissy is currently employed as a registered nurse at the GP surgery in Raetihi, a position which is enhanced by her strong community contacts.

Chrissy is proud to say that her experience at UCOL has encouraged her son and his partner to take up further education with UCOL in 2015, and she hopes to be able to inspire Maori and mature students to take the leap into further education.

International student

Science with Shillington #3: Sunlight

David Shillington Science Lecturer

David Shillington

David Shillington is Associate Professor Applied Health Sciences, and Senior lecturer in Chemistry at UCOL. He knows a lot about Science. Here’s what he has to say about Sunlight…

2015 is the UN international year of light and light based technologies. It is a joint initiative between the United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and many scientific organisations around the world. It aims to raise global awareness of the social, economic and developmental role of light and optical technologies. Light is vital as a source of life and also is essential for many technologies which have revolutionised medicine and daily communications. These industries create jobs, generate economic growth and help us to address global issues such as sustainability and the energy challenges ahead. Our first experiences of light and colour occur through what we see in the natural world. Rainbows, sunsets, the blue sky, the Northern and Southern lights, the varied colours of flora and fauna are all ways we see how light manifests itself in nature.

Palmerston North is very fortunate, as it is soon to be the home of a newly developing exhibition called “Sunlight” This will open at the science museum at Te Manawa. One may wonder where such an exhibition could begin regarding the history of light? Well, very soon after the Big Bang, an important stage of the evolution of the universe occurred when the temperature was cool enough (about 4000 degrees Centigrade) for neutral atoms to form.  Up until this time the numerous charged particles in existence prevented light from travelling very far.  After the formation of atoms, light could travel immense distances and we can now observe microwave background radiation (a form of “light” that has been travelling for over 13 billion years).

Important to us, was the more recent formation (about 4.5 billion years ago) of a particular star we call the Sun and the material around it we call the Solar System. The Sun has shone over Earth ever since, initially allowing photosynthetic cynanobacteria to use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and oxygen. After producing vast quantities of oxygen, they then provided for oxygen-breathing life to evolve. Now the world depends on plants which use chlorophyll to achieve similar results and which help sustain the various life forms found on Earth.

When humans evolved very much more recently, they discovered many more sources of light starting with fire (camp fire light) and fuel burning lamps, advancing through to using electricity to “light up” incandescent lights, then progressing through to inventing fluorescent lighting and light emitting diode technologies. Branching out further, using wavelengths of radiation which are on either side of the visible radiation spectrum (shorter and longer in wavelength than visible light),  society now uses electromagnetic radiation usefully in many forms. We are familiar with communication and entertainment through radio waves. Microwave technology not only allows us to cook food efficiently, the development and use of cellphones allows us to communicate and use the internet from fairly remote locations.  X-rays, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging have allowed us to see inside ourselves and to make enormous medical advances in cancer treatment.  

What an exciting field to develop an exhibition around! Te Manawa’s CEO Andy Lowe and his staff, with the support of its Science Society members, contracting personel and some generous sponsorships, have been hard at work to provide the citizens of Palmerston North with a thought provoking, scientific exhibition that will be worthy of sharing with other institutions nationally and internationally. That’s not bad for something home grown in our lovely Palmerston North. 

Science UCOL

Student Perspective: Part-time study

Claire Sweeney is a Year Two Diploma in Veterinary Nursing student at UCOL, in her third year of study.

As a mature student with two children (7 and 11), Claire is studying the Vet Nursing programme part-time. With past experience working with horses in the UK, and living in a rural environment with animals here in New Zealand, Claire always had Vet Nursing in the back of her mind. After moving home and starting a family Claire decided to pursue her quest for more knowledge and enrolled at UCOL. Fingers crossed, she’ll finish the programme at the end of 2015.

Claire says it has been challenging at times, but she made it through the first year with a mix of self-determination and support from her teachers. “I started as a distance student in late 2012 but I really struggled; the programme was more ‘sciencey’ than I expected. Luckily I was let into classes by the end of January 2013.”

Vet Nursing student

Claire Sweeney

Claire says she learned more by attending classes but did find them overwhelming to start with. “Everyone was under 25, except one other older lady, all glued to their phones and looking pretty. I actually skipped a couple of classes because of it.”

She didn’t express how she felt but instead persevered. “I had to, if I wanted to study.”

She says she appreciates that all the programme staff are now aware of her situation as a single mother with kids at school. “They’re all ok with it. I told the programme leader Heather recently that I couldn’t make the classes scheduled for after three in the afternoon, so she changed some class times for me. I didn’t expect that; Heather has been fantastic.”

Likewise, Claire is unable to make clinical labs to be run after three p.m. this year but staff have said they will try to work something out for her.

Another twist for Claire has been seeing her classmates progress through study faster than she has. “The ones I started with have finished, and now I’m with another group. It’s been eye-opening seeing how different two groups of students can be and this year’s group is much bigger than last year’s. I’ve found it good though, I like seeing the different personalities and attitudes.”

Claire says all her Lecturers are ‘dual-professionals’, i.e. industry experts as well as Teachers, and she sees the benefits. “Sometimes I do feel a bit left behind in the classroom because the subject matter is clearly just second nature to the Lecturer, but on rotation it’s really good because they give you all the tips and tricks along the way.

She says her Lecturers also have good connections to Vet practices in the region. “I have special circumstances, so I’ve been put in touch with a vet clinic close to home and the Vet there is always available to help me. The placements take a while to get your head around but they’re flexible; you can do them at different times of the year.”

Claire is looking forward to the practical work this year. “Year One was very technical and not as much fun but you’ve just got to do it the best you can. Lecturers set tasks and group work to make things more interesting. It was more time consuming but it was easier to remember things that way rather than always reading out of a textbook.”

Living on a lifestyle block, Claire appreciates that she is able to bring in her own samples to test. “The Science labs are good. It’s been great.”

So long, Steve Sorbsy

Steve Sorsby Dean at Graduation 2015

Steve Sorsby at Graduation 2015

After 33 years and several roles and advances in technology at UCOL, Executive Dean Steve Sorsby has decided to hang up his mortarboard and retire.

Steve joined UCOL as a Lecturer in March 1982 and was concurrently appointed to the newly created role of Computer Manager later in that same year. In 2012 he moved from his position as Director of Information Technology to take up the role of Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Business.

He’s been involved in massive technology changes that have occurred in education since the launch of the PC in 1982. He installed the first polytechnic email system in collaboration with Christchurch Institute of Technology, implemented local computer networks, the internet, wireless communications, and connected to the Advanced research network.

He also carried out other roles at UCOL including Integration Manager during the Wairarapa Community Polytechnic merger with UCOL, Facilities Manager, Corporate Services Manager and Client Project Manager on several major building projects, including the earthquake strengthening project of some of our buildings in 2010.

Reflecting on the last three years, Mr Sorsby says the Deans role is entirely different from anything else he has done at UCOL. “I have enjoyed the many aspects of the role and working closely with all of the departments at UCOL, but the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the success that the students achieve whilst studying. Although I’m looking to take things a bit easier I’m sure I will continue to be involved in education one way or another, possibly coming back as a student.”

“One thing life at UCOL has taught me is that you never stop learning.”

Steve’s last day at UCOL is this Friday, April 10. Farewell Steve, you will be missed!

Automotive equipment

Graduate profile: Brody McCosh – Automotive Engineering

Brody Mcosh - Automotive Engineering 2014 Graduate

Brody Mcosh – Automotive Engineering 2014 Graduate

When Masterton local Brody McCosh finished Year 12 he already knew what it was he wanted to do.

Having already completed a STAR automotive programme while still at school, Brody enrolled in UCOL Wairarapa’s Certificate in Automotive Engineering for the year 2014.

With some solid after school work experience under his belt, he knew he wanted to work with cars and thought he “might as well get into it.”

Brody says he found it easy to learn during the one year full-time programme. “It was really good. My tutor was the best teacher I’ve ever had – really supportive throughout the course.”

“There was lots of one-on-one time; you’re doing full days of one subject.”

During the programme Brody gained valuable work experience at a local automotive workshop, working on cars and generally helping out around the place.

It was through this experience that he developed relationships with visiting reps and landed himself a paid job at Repco.

“It’s great because Repco is all about car parts, and I already know about them from the UCOL course.”

Brody says he did know a few people on the programme when he started but has since made more friends. “We liked the same stuff!”

Brody is now considering what it is he will do next.

“I’d like to start an apprenticeship in automotive engineering.”

Honouring community contribution

We are excited to announce the recipients of the 2015 UCOL Council Honours Awards!

Manawatu District Mayor Margaret Kouvelis, Whanganui businessman Trevor Goodwin and Wairarapa-based Musician Warren Maxwell all receive the highest honour of Honorary Fellow for outstanding and distinguished contribution to UCOL, the wider community and society in general.

Honorary Associate awards go out to Mike Grant, MidCentral District Health Board Deputy Chief Executive; Whanganui Patternmaker John Kite; and Wairarapa philanthropist Chris Dugdale, for significant and distinguished contribution to the life and work of UCOL and/or the wider community of which UCOL is a part.

The awards are UCOL Council’s way of recognising people who act as role models and inspiration to UCOL students, and reflect the institution’s community connections. The awards will be conferred at UCOL’s upcoming graduation ceremonies (Wairarapa March 17, Whanganui March 18, Palmerston North 24 and 25 March).

Here are this year’s recipients:

Warren MaxwellWarren Maxwell, Honorary Fellow

Warren Maxwell is an award-winning New Zealand musician; he is a founding member of psychedelic blues quartet, Little Bushman & iconic NZ Apra silver scroll nominees Trinity Roots. Warren was also was saxophonist for internationally acclaimed dub group Fat Freddy’s Drop. He has also worked in Theatre, Sound Design, and in scoring for film and television. Warren holds a Bachelor of Music and contracts to UCOL Wairarapa as a Contemporary Music Tutor. He has been involved with Masterton youth programme the SPOT and the setup of a recording studio for young people. In 2013 Warren Co-Founded Masterton’s internationally renowned live music venue, King Street Live, and also featured in the national television series, Songs from the Inside, teaching music to prisoners.

Margaret KouvelisMargaret Kouvelis, Honorary Fellow

Margaret Kouvelis is the Mayor of the Manawatu District. She was the first Chief Executive of the New Zealand Teachers Council, and has been an advisor to secondary schools and to the Teacher Registration Board. She has also worked as an education consultant in the Middle East, a scientist, a biology teacher, the head of art at Alexandra’s Dunstan High School and the head of music at Freyberg High School. She holds degrees in science and a diploma in music, and is committed to securing further economic development, creating jobs, and attracting and retaining youth in the District while protecting the community’s social well-being.

Trevor Goodwin Headshot 15-03-11Trevor Goodwin, Honorary Fellow

Trevor Goodwin is the Chair of Whanganui Community Education Service (CES) and Acting Chief Executive of Business Central. He served as President of Business New Zealand from 2008 to 2010, and Chair of UCOL Council from 2010 to 2014. He was Chief Executive of Wanganui Gas Ltd for 15 years, and is a Life Member of the Employers and Manufacturers Association Central. As UCOL Chair Trevor represented UCOL on the joint UCOL/Wanganui District Council working group seeking a sustainable tertiary education model for Whanganui, and chaired the ITP Sector Forum. Trevor continues to contribute to Whanganui and the wider community as a Trustee of Vision 2020, a business mentor, and through involvement in community groups.

John KiteJohn Kite, Honorary Associate

John Kite is a successful patternmaker from Whanganui who has worked for iconic designers such as Colin Cole, Kevin Berkhan, Angela Wickstead, Liz Mitchell and the bridal label Rue de Siene. He is a member of the stakeholder group for Whanganui UCOL’s Bachelor of Design and Art, and has run workshops with and mentored Fashion students. He has also presented the top achieving Year Three UCOL Fashion student with the John Kite Book Award, and moderated UCOL’s Third Year student Final Major Project. John brings a wealth of industry knowledge to UCOL and continues to contribute to the Whanganui arts community.

duo photographyBarbara Christine (Chris) Dugdale, Honorary Associate

Chris Dugdale is a trustee of the Dugdale Charitable Trust, which provides opportunities for people to work together and make a difference in the lives of other people. She is also a member of Philanthropy NZ. Chris has been involved with UCOL Wairarapa since 2012 when the campus built its first house on site as part of its construction programmes. Chris encouraged local businesses and suppliers to get involved with the UCOL house builds and the partnership between UCOL, local suppliers and the Trust has raised funds by undertaking to purchase the houses and resell them at a profit. Students have been able to learn valuable vocational skills and the region has benefited from the donations made to the different local charities.

Mike Grant (photo 1)Mike Grant, Honorary Associate

Mike Grant is the Deputy Chief Executive at MidCentral District Health Board, and Chair of the Central Region’s cancer control network. Mike has a long association with health and has led the development of MidCentral DHB’s strategic direction. He has fully supported the establishment of UCOL’s specialist Exercise and Wellness clinic U-Kinetics through a Service Level Agreement between Midcentral DHB and UCOL. This support and funding has enabled UCOL to become a demonstration site for Health Workforce New Zealand, and to provide innovative education and health outcomes for the region.