Her own struggles have helped inspire Donna Stanley to do the best she can to help others.
Forty-year-old Donna (Ngāti Apakura), a solo parent from Te Awamutu, last year completed a Ngā Poutoko Whakarara Oranga - Bachelor in Bicultural Social Work at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, after earlier getting a Certificate qualification.
Donna says her life experiences meant she was keen to find a way to help others, as well as create a better life for herself and her tamariki.
“I have always had a deep passion for people who feel marginalised and encompassed by stigmatized thinking. Through the impacts I faced from my own life experience it gave me the push to pursue it further.”
After completing her degree’s year-four placement at Kainga Aroha Community House in Te Awamutu, Donna gained work as the trust’s family support worker. With their assistance, she is in the process of getting her formal registration as a social worker.
“Studying helped me gain the knowledge base and the theory about how to apply best practice in a professional context.”
Donna says she loved the relaxed atmosphere and student support at TWoA, which made her learning journey easier.
She also enjoyed being a tauira representative, which gave her skills in advocating for others and in accessing processes that helped them succeed.
“I was able to be around like-minded people who shared the same vision in a class that was noho-based. The diversity of cultures ensured we could learn other world views other than our own.
“The kaiako were very helpful at any time and, when I struggled to understand certain aspects, they were approachable and enabled me to gain further understanding on various kaupapa.”