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Shane Stevens - Graduate Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching).

At 50 years old, Shane Stephens received his first qualification, a Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching) from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

After many years of playing professional rugby in Ireland, he returned to Aotearoa unsure what his next step would be. He ended up becoming a teacher aide working in various Rotorua schools.

He was comfortable in this role and didn’t have any plans of higher education. That was until a local school principal encouraged him to consider studying teaching.

“I didn’t want to go back to school and study, I hardly went to school when I was meant to go. After 30 years, going back to study was daunting,” says Shane who graduated in May this year.

Soon after Shane began his bachelor's at the Rotorua campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, he realised that his fears of not keeping up with the learning and being ‘too old’ to study, wouldn’t be an issue.

He was supported by his kaiako throughout his learning journey and was proud to show that even after many years out of the classroom, he was proof that you could in fact, ‘teach an old dog new tricks.’

“They all help you in your learning, not just the teachers but your classmates too. I’m glad I came to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to tell you the truth. All those fears I had, I never experienced any.”

As someone who loves sport and was able to make a career out of playing professional rugby, Shane has been a part of many trophy ceremonies and seen sporting accolades around the world.

But he says those moments couldn’t compare to his graduation ceremony in front of his whānau and community.

“My biggest highlight was graduation day, I cried the whole time. I took graduation lightly, but I was so overwhelmed. It’s nothing like the award ceremonies I have seen or been a part of, it’s way more special.”

Shane now has a role teaching at Rotokawa School in Rotorua where he hopes to use both his sporting experience and knowledge from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to uplift and encourage tamariki to succeed.

“My main motivation is to reach those Māori boys like me, sitting down the back that want to become All Blacks. I want to make a big push for always having a plan B. So pushing education because it opens more doors and offers more opportunities. That’s the message I’m trying to get out there.”

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Published On: 17 August 2023

Article By: Cassia Ngaruhe

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