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Paula Nuku quit her 20-year job in the Seafood industry as a compliance officer on a Wednesday. 

"It was time to upskill myself," says the born and raised Māngere resident.

She walked into the Māngere Town Centre Library, looked around for courses and talked to the librarian, who is now a Te Wānanga o Aotearoa tauira herself.

The librarian sent Paula to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, where she signed up for the Level 2 Computing course.

In two years Paula completed the National Certificate in Computing Levels 2, 3 and 4 as well as a National Certificate in Business Administration and Computing.

"My main motivation was to get my computer tutor's job, but the only let down was that I didn't have a degree." she says.

With her new qualifications under her belt, she was eligible to enroll into the First Year of Bachelor of Teaching (Primary), formerly known as Te Korowai. So that's exactly what she did.

With the passing of her dad a month before beginning this educational journey, and being a solo mum - these were her main motivators for completing the degree.

"Doing the study kept me busy. I was working nightshifts at my job. My sleeping pattern consisted of about four hours a day but that was my choice because I wanted to pay off my student loan. I didn't want to be a statistic."

Paula says the learning environment was whanau orientated, supportive and inclusive. To this day the graduates still keep in contact with one another.

She also found the training, whether bilingual or full immersion, to be adaptable and of a very high standard.

"We had the best of the best tutors, but it's in the practicums where you see you can make a difference to the kids; where you see how receptive they are when you show them that learning is fun."

Paula can recall three teachers who made an impact on her schooling.
The first was Greg Roebuck, now Principal of New Lynn Primary School.

"He made you think outside the box and that definitely left an impression."

Second was Margaret Shortt, now a Dean at Aorere College who saw potential in Paula at such a young age, even suggested Paula go to boarding school for the high quality education, however Paula decided to stay local to be with her family and lastly David Hodge, Principal of Rangitoto College.

"He told me I'd fail. I guess that was his way of making me prove him wrong."

Prove him wrong she did. Since 2015 she's been a Computing Kaiako at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and has studied and completed Te Ara Reo Māori and is in the process of applying to do her Post Graduate Diploma in IT for more content knowledge in her current employment.

"Even though I've been a tauira there's still more to learn," she says.

"A few doors closed, before one opened, so don't live behind excuses.
You won't know until you try."

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